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Guardians’ embarrassing bullpen spoils Noah Syndergaard’s solid debut

The Cleveland bullpen strikes again

Cleveland Guardians v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Have you ever been at a party where everyone is having a good time but then a certain someone walks in the door and suddenly the vibe takes a turn for the worse?

Why am I asking? No reason.

Anyway, the Cleveland Guardians led the Houston Astros, 2-0, in the sixth inning Monday night — backed by a surprisingly effective Cleveland debut for recent acquisition Noah Syndergaard — when Eli Morgan entered the game. As you might have guessed, the vibe took a turn.

Inheriting a runner on third with one out, Morgan wasted no time in allowing that baserunner to score, firing a 91 mph four-seam fastball down the middle of the plate on his first pitch to Kyle Tucker for an RBI single. He then walked Alex Bregman on four pitches, bringing Yordan Alvarez to the plate. Predictably, Morgan surrendered a three-run go-ahead home run to Alvarez.

The vibes only got worse from there.

With the Guardians trailing 4-2, Michael Kelly took the mound in the seventh inning and completely lost command of his pitches. He walked four batters in the inning and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch in one at-bat that saw Bo Naylor dodging, ducking, dipping, diving and dodging behind home plate, trying desperately to get a glove on Kelly’s erratic pitches.

Daniel Norris gave up an RBI single to Jake Myers in the eighth inning to make it 6-2. He then walked Altuve and Jeremy Pena — making it nine free passes issued by Cleveland pitchers on the night — to load the bases, setting up a Kyle Tucker sac fly to give Houston a five-run lead.

Before Morgan opened the floodgates, Syndergaard had kept the Astros at bay. He didn’t have swing-and-miss stuff, failing to record a single strikeout, but utilized all six of his pitches to keep Houston off balance. There were more than a few loud outs but Syndergaard was able to avoid damage with a bit of BABIP luck. He pitched into the sixth inning, allowing a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve before a comebacker struck him in the left leg. Syndergaard was removed from the game — setting the stage for Morgan’s meltdown — and was limping a bit as he walked off the field.

The Guardians’ 2-0 lead, which felt like a distant memory by the ninth inning, materialized in the second inning against Houston starter J.P. France. Bo Naylor hit an RBI double to left field to plate their first run and Myles Straw followed with a sac fly to center field.

But that was all they could muster against France, who allowed seven hits, two walks, and two earned runs over seven innings while striking out six.

After loading the bases with no outs in the ninth inning, the Guardians prompted Astros manager Dusty Baker to bring in Ryan Pressly. He retired all three batters he faced, allowing a solitary run to score on a sac fly by Steven Kwan to make it a four-run loss rather than a five-run loss.