Sometimes all it takes is one swing from your team’s best player to erase a full day’s worth of inept offense. José Ramírez provided that today that a ninth-inning double that plated Myles Straw and Steven Kwan to secure the comeback win in the game — and series — over the Cardinals.
Did the Guardians get lucky that Cardinals stand-in closer Ryan Helsley couldn’t find the strike zone and walked the first two batters in essentially non-competitive at-bats? Yep. Do I care? Not at all. Plenty of times this season, and even in this game, the Guardians managed two baserunners and still couldn’t score them. Take the wins however you can get them right now.
Without José’s game-winner, the Guardians would be looking at their second-straight loss while outhitting the Cardinals. That dark fate was erased, but the fact that it came so close is still going to be concerning. The 2023 Guardians are not fixed by one game, but at least they go into the Orioles series tomorrow with something to look build on.
Also, celebrate all of Ramírez’s heroics, but don’t let Xzavion Curry’s efforts in this game be forgotten. Coming in to finish off the last three innings of the game after Hunter Gaddis and Eli Morgan, Curry held the Cardinals to a pair of hits and no runs. Just as he’s done countless times this season, he came in for multi-inning clean-up duties and looked great doing it.
Gaddis’ start could have been much better (and maybe even a bit longer) if he didn’t start hurling meatballs over the plate in the fifth inning. After four pretty good innings, in which he induced seven swings and misses on mostly off-speed stuff, he decided to throw some batting practice for the Cardinals. The fifth inning started with a solo home run from Alec Burleson and didn’t end until Gaddis allowed two more solo shots sprinkled between some hard-hit outs.
All told, the Cardinals put six balls in play in the fifth and every single one was hit back at 99 mph or harder. Gaddis had some luck inducing weak contact earlier in the game, but he was hit hard throughout most of it. The damage didn’t start coming until batters saw him a second time, however.
I’ve harped on this point before — in basically every single Gaddis start — but his mechanics get so out of whack throughout the game that his release points become spread and likely easy to identify for batters. It would explain why the Cardinals were able to tee off on him the second time through the order.
Thanks to Curry’s ability to hold down the fort for multiple innings and José Ramírez’s clutch hit, I don’t even have to mention the fact that Terry Francona was baited into bringing in a weak-hitting left-handed batter, Will Brennan, in a clutch situation only to have a lefty come in out of the bullpen and immediately shut him down. Or the fact that the Guardians were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position before the ninth inning. Or that Andrés Giménez still looked atrocious at the plate in his two plate appearances after coming in to replace David Fry.
Whoops — anyway, the Guardians have another chance to start a winning streak in tomorrow’s Memorial Day matinee against the Orioles.