The Cleveland Guardians dropped the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, but rallied late in the second game to avoid a sweep and salvage a split with the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit came out swinging against starting pitcher Gavin Williams in Game 1. Akil Baddoo led off the game with a solo home run. Williams was able to get a pair of groundouts before the inning got away from him. Spencer Torkelson hit a double, Kerry Carpenter hit an RBI single, and Miguel Cabrera made it a 3-0 lead with an RBI double — all with two outs.
Those three runs in the first inning were all the Tigers would need. The Guardians could do nothing against Detroit starting pitcher Tarik Skubal, at least not after the first inning. Jose Ramirez hit a double and scored on an Oscar Gonzalez two-out RBI single, but Skubal only allowed one other hit through the next five innings. He finished with seven strikeouts in six innings of work.
Eli Morgan surrendered a solo homer to Jake Rogers in the ninth inning, and Steven Kwan scored in the bottom of the ninth on a Gonzalez groundout after a leadoff triple for a final score of 4-2.
That was Game 1.
Game 2 was grim until the eighth inning.
Tigers starter Joey Wentz, who entered the game with a 7.03 ERA, shut down the Cleveland lineup for five scoreless innings. If you’ve watched this team at all this season, that should come as no surprise. Wentz allowed four hits and two walks, but the Guardians squandered every opportunity to score. José Ramírez had multiple opportunities throughout the game to plate a run. He fouled out on a first-pitch changeup in the third inning with one out and runners on first and second, and grounded out in the seventh inning with two outs and runners on first and second.
It gets worse, though. The one run scored by Detroit came with two outs in the fourth inning. Riley Greene was on first base after reaching on an infield chopper. Andy Ibáñez hit a routine flyball to right-center, where both Will Brennan and Oscar Gonzalez apparently lost the ball in the evening sky. It dropped behind Gonzalez for an RBI double, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
It was an especially cruel twist of fate considering Xzavion Curry otherwise pitched well. He went a season-high six innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out six.
Cleveland seemed headed for a brutal loss and a doubleheader sweep until the eighth inning. Detroit reliever Andrew Vasquez walked Andrés Giménez on four pitches before manager A.J. Hinch pulled him in favor of right-hander Jose Cisnero. After Oscar Gonzalez grounded into a fielder’s choice, Kole Calhoun came to the plate and fell behind 1-2 before drawing a seven-pitch walk. With runners on first and second, Brayan Rocchio also fell behind 1-2 in the count but lined an RBI single up the middle to score Gonzalez and tie the game.
After both Calhoun and Rocchio were able to advance on a wild pitch, Will Brennan launched a two-run double over the head of Matt Vierling in center field to give the Guardians their first lead of the day. Gabriel Arias then made it a 4-1 lead with an RBI single.
Emmanuel Clase pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close it out.