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Gavin Williams’ sizzling start wasted by mind-numbingly feeble Guardians lineup

The rookie starter delivered his best performance of the season

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Gavin Williams deserved better.

Not only did Williams record double-digit strikeouts for the first time in his career, but he became the first Cleveland rookie to notch 12 punchouts since Luis Tiant on Aug. 18, 1964.

He was brilliant for seven shoutout innings, limiting the Toronto Blue Jays to one hit and one walk. His four-seam fastball was sensational, accounting for 58% of his pitches on the night and finishing the game with a 48% CSW%. Williams also utilized his slider and curveball to perfection, with Bo Naylor deserving some credit for the game he called behind the plate.

But it was all for naught, unfortunately, thanks to the Guardians’ putrid lineup.

Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu — another dreaded soft-tossing left-hander — pitched four hitless innings before exiting the game after taking an Oscar Gonzalez line drive to the knee. Right-hander Jay Jackson took the mound in the fifth and surrendered an infield single to Brayan Rocchio, who only narrowly reached base after a diving stop at second base by Cavan Biggio.

Both teams were scoreless in the top of the eighth inning when Enyel De Los Santos entered in relief of Williams. He allowed a one-out single to Daulton Varsho before throwing three straight changeups to Biggio, the last of which ended up over the wall in the right-center for a go-ahead two-run homer. Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis admitted after the game there was a miscommunication between De Los Santos and Bo Naylor on the last pitch to Biggio. Naylor had called for a fastball, rather than another changeup.

Rocchio and Myles Straw tried to spark a rally in the bottom of the eighth with back-to-back one-out singles. Naylor’s RBI single to right field cut Toronto’s lead to one run. But then Steven Kwan hit a sharp grounder to Biggio, who was in perfect position to tag out Naylor on the basepaths and out-sprint Kwan to first base to complete the inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays restored their two-run lead in the top of the ninth inning thanks to a George Springer RBI single off Nick Sandlin to give us our final score of 3-1.

The Guardians had the start of a rally in the bottom of the ninth thanks to Andres Gimenez getting hit by a pitch in the foot and Jose Ramirez singling to right field. But Oscar Gonzalez grounded out and Kole Calhoun flew out to shallow left field on a first-pitch fastball. After Gabriel Arias loaded the bases on a two-out walk, Rocchio grounded out to end the game.