Boos erupted from the sellout crowd at Progressive Field in the third inning of Monday night’s game as Michael Harris II rounded the bases following a solo home run. Fans certainly weren’t pleased to see the Atlanta Braves take a 1-0 lead, but their boos were aimed squarely at the stadium’s fireworks operator, who likely wanted to crawl under a rock after mistakenly lighting up the sky in celebration of a home run for the visiting team.
Perhaps the fans should have been more forgiving of the gaffe, considering the Cleveland Guardians themselves failed to provide much in the way of fireworks in a 4-2 loss.
Rookie starting pitcher Gavin Williams had his work cut out for him against an Atlanta lineup boasting six All-Stars. The Braves, who lead the league in home runs, lived up their billing. Harris II took Williams the distance twice, and Marcell Ozuna also launched a solo home run. The only other run he allowed was on an Ozzie Albies RBI single to score Ronald Acuña Jr., who had stolen second to notch his 40th stolen base of the season.
Considering the competition, Cleveland could not have asked for much more from Williams in just his third career start. He went 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits, two walks, and four earned runs.
Xzavion Curry took care of the rest. Not only did he give the rest of the bullpen the night off, but he also kept his team in the game, holding the Braves hitless over the final 2.2 innings.
Atlanta starting pitcher Bryce Elder was a groundball machine. He held the Guardians scoreless through the first six innings, inducing nine groundball outs over that stretch. Up until the seventh inning, Elder had only allowed four hits and two walks, and the only real hard contact hit was an Amed Rosario single in the third inning. It was Rosario who helped Cleveland finally break through against Elder in the seventh inning, lining a two-out, two-run single to left field to score Myles Straw and Steven Kwan and cut the Braves’ lead in half.
The Guardians had a scoring opportunity against left-hander A.J. Minter in the eighth inning after Andrés Giménez hit a double off the wall in center field and Will Brennan drew a two-out walk. Atlanta brought in right-hander Nick Anderson to face Myles Straw, who grounded out.
Josh Naylor was removed from the game during the seventh inning. He appeared to be in some discomfort after an awkward swing on a foul ball and had his right wrist examined by the trainer. Naylor finished the at-bat but was then replaced by Gabriel Arias.