The Cleveland Guardians stumbled to start their road trip Tuesday night, dropping a 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres after trailing in the first inning for the third time in four games.
The Guardians never had much of a chance, buried under a 4-0 deficit.
Starting pitcher Tanner Bibee struggled to command and locate his pitches against a patient Padres lineup. He walked Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto to open the game. Bibee managed to retire the next two batters, though the second out was a sac fly to score Soto. But then he hung a slider to Jake Cronenworth for a single and hung another slider to Gary Sanchez, who crushed a three-run homer to give the Padres their aforementioned 4-0 lead.
After giving up a solo shot to Tatis in the second inning, Bibee was able to calm the waters a bit, holding San Diego scoreless in the third and fourth innings. But ahead of the fourth inning, he noticeably took off his glasses and switched to a different glove. Not exactly a reassuring sign. The true test of a rookie starting pitcher is how he responds to adversity. Ditching your specs and swapping out your glove seem more like desperation moves than informed adjustments.
His day ended in the fifth inning without recording an out. Manny Machado reached on a swinging bunt down the third base line, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI double in the gap in right-center by Xander Bogaerts. Manager Terry Francona gave Bibee the hook after that, pulling the plug on the worst performance of his rookie season so far.
Cleveland did their best to chip away at the Padres’ lead, but San Diego never had less than a three-run lead in the game. Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove was part of the problem, particularly his curveball, which finished the night with a 46% CSW%.
Josh Bell, making his return to Petco Park, launched a solo homer in his first at-bat, cutting San Diego’s lead to 4-1 in the second inning. The Guardians wouldn’t score again until the fifth inning, when a Steven Kwan RBI groundout cut the deficit to 5-2. Tyler Freeman’s sac fly in the seventh inning pulled Cleveland within three runs again, reducing it to a 6-3 lead.
Musgrove was responsible for all three runs. He went seven innings, striking out five.