On Sunday, after a 4 hour and 33-minute rain delay, play resumed between the Mariners and Guardians. Cleveland would go on to lose in the 11th inning, affording Seattle the series sweep. The added fatigue of a long day and the travel to Kansas City isn’t optimal. The Guardians will need every bit of energy as they head into what will be a pivotal week in the division race.
Rain, rain go away
Cal Quantrill was on the hill for Cleveland. The right-hander has been solid for the team the entire season. He went three innings, allowing three runs on five hits.
The bright spot of the day was that the offense showed some signs of life. The bats had been silent through Saturday when the Guardians managed to snap a streak of 27 consecutive scoreless innings.
Josh Naylor produced an RBI double, and Oscar Gonzalez came up clutch with a single to tie the game in the 8th. James Karinchak continued his streak of not allowing a run since July 9. Despite these efforts it wasn’t enough to fend off the Mariners.
Going through a rough patch
In August, the young Cleveland team was red hot. They held a four-game lead over the Twins in the American League Central. Energy exuded from them throughout games. Fun was the word that was used to describe watching them play.
That energy appears to be stifled and there are hints of frustration. Shane Bieber spoke on that after his start on Thursday as the Guardians lost the game and the series to Baltimore. When asked about the feeling in the clubhouse he said:
“I think there might be a little sense of frustration after the past few days…we don’t have the luxury of being that way [we haven’t] so why change now. We have the same mentality we’ve started with since April. I’m excited to see how we bounce back because I know we will.”
To add to the September slump, the team placed two of their starting pitchers on the injured list. Aaron Civale with right forearm inflammation and Zach Plesac with a broken hand. While this type of loss is significant, the Guardians do have their core starters in Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and Cal Quantrill. Not to mention one of the best bullpens in the Majors. Karinchak, Nick Sandlin, Emmanuel Clase and Trevor Stephan are in the top five of lowest ERA in the American League.
The bats have gone ice cold and simply it’s a slump. It happens to the best of teams. The Yankees struggled after the All-Star break. For those who like to point out that “high-market, high payroll” teams are the way to win, there’s a case to be made that these teams also are not without their issues.
Seattle basically eliminated the AL Central from the wildcard with the sweep in Cleveland. The chase for the division is full on. The Guardians are tied with the Twins in first place with the White Sox two games back.
All is not lost
The Guardians have eight remaining games against the Twins. They also play a make-up game against the White Sox on September 16.
Heading to Kansas City it’s imperative that the team turns things around. It’s going to take a spark. At times, it’s as simple as just winning one game to right the ship.
This week is huge. It wouldn’t be Cleveland sports if it were easy and without stress. The grit the team displayed just a brief time ago can reappear. As Bieber stated, above, he knows they’ll bounce back. Hit the road with a purpose and pick themselves up as the team has shown its ability to do multiple times. They’ll need every bit of that grit to battle these next few weeks.
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