Nothing strikes more fear into the Cleveland Guardians than a 71.4 mph curveball.
More specifically, soft-tossing left-hander pitcher Ryan Yarbrough’s curveball.
The Kansas City Royals’ starting pitcher has faced the Guardians twice this month, and Monday’s start was almost identical to his performance from a couple weeks back.
July 9: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 5 K
July 24: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 1 ER, 1 K
Only Amed Rosario had an answer for Yarbrough, collecting half of the six hits he allowed over six innings. His leadoff double in the sixth inning turned into the only run allowed by the Kansas City southpaw thanks to a two-out RBI single courtesy of Josh Bell.
Contributing to Cleveland’s offensive woes at the moment is that José Ramírez and Josh Naylor have both gone cold, combining to go 1-for-18 over the last two games.
The pressure was on the lineup from the start, as the Royals took an aggressive approach at the plate against rookie Guardians starting pitcher Logan Allen. The second inning got off to an auspicious start after a sharp grounder to Ramírez at third base glanced off his glove, allowing Matt Duffy to reach on an error. The next pitch, Jason Isbel lined a single to right field to put runners on the corners. Both Duffy and Isbel came around to score on a two-run double by Edward Olivares, giving Kansas City a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.
To his credit, Allen settled in from there, retiring the next 12 batters he faced before running into trouble in the sixth inning. Salvador Perez’s two-run homer made it a 4-0 advantage.
After Bell’s RBI double cut the deficit to 4-1, a Maikel Garcia solo shot restored the four-run lead. It wasn’t the worst outing for Allen, who went seven innings and allowed seven hits and five runs (four of them earned). The two home runs ultimately proved costly.
Once Yarbrough exited the game, the spell on the Guardians’ lineup seemed to have lifted. David Fry drew a leadoff walk, Will Brennan hit a double into the corner in left field, and Myles Straw lined a two-run single to center field to bring Cleveland within two runs. But a Steven Kwan strikeout and an Amed Rosario double play stopped them in their tracks.
Daniel Norris, fresh from Triple-A Columbus, held serve over the final two innings to give the Guardians a chance, but they did nothing with a scoring opportunity in the ninth.