How many relievers does it take to record nine outs?
In the case of the Cleveland Guardians, the answer is five. At least that’s how many blundered through the final innings of Friday night’s 12-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
The bullpen was handed a 4-2 lead to start the sixth inning when manager Terry Francona pulled starting pitcher Aaron Civale after only 79 pitches, evidently opting not to try his luck with Civale a third time through the Rangers’ order. Long story short, it did not work out.
Eli Morgan did not look sharp from the start, walking Nathaniel Lowe on four pitches. He managed to at least record one out on an Adolis Garcia flyout, but back-to-back singles allowed Texas to cut the deficit to 4-3. Nick Sandlin took over for Morgan with runners on first and second and loaded the bases by hitting Travis Jankowski with a pitch. But to his credit, Sandlin left ‘em loaded, recording the final two outs of the inning without further damage.
Unfortunately, in the seventh inning, Sam Hentges followed Morgan’s example, walking Marcus Semien on four pitches to lead things off. Corey Seager then launched a ball to center field, where Myles Straw tried to snare the ball on the warning track but saw it glance off his glove instead, allowing the tying run to score on what was ruled an RBI double. After giving up a single to third batter he faced, Hentges got the hook in favor of Enyel De Los Santos.
De Los Santos didn’t fare any better. He gave up three hits and a walk, allowing the go-ahead run to score in addition to three insurance runs. The Rangers tried to plate a fourth insurance run but Jankowski was thrown out at home for the final out of the inning.
Cody Morris was called upon to take care of the eighth inning. He must have watched the Home Run Derby earlier this week and felt left out, because he surrendered three home runs. Combined, the Guardians’ bullpen allowed 12 hits, four walks, and 10 earned runs over three innings.
You’d never know it by the final score, but this game actually got off to a good start. Civale pitched well, only allowing five hits, one walk, and two earned runs over five innings. In the third inning, Josh and Bo Naylor became the first brothers in franchise history to each hit a home run in the same game. Both slugged a two-run homer to give the Guardians a 4-0 lead.
It was all downhill from there, though.