The Cleveland Guardians had arguably their most impressive win of the 2022 season so far Friday night. On the road against one of the league’s premiere team in the Los Angeles Dodgers, a veteran team with talent flowing throughout with four former MVPs in their lineup. It didn’t matter to the young Guardians as a fantastic pitching outing and a late RBI led the Guardians to a 2-1 win over LA.

Guardians (33-27) 2 – Rockies (39-24) 1. WP: Anthony Gose (3-0), LP: Evan Phillips (1-e), SV: Enyel De Los Santos (1)

Bullpen continues to dominate

    If you look at the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup, it is loaded. Even without arguably their best hitter Mookie Betts in the lineup, a former MVP, they already have two former MVPs in the middle of it in Freddie Freeman and Cody Bellinger. Then, they have one of the fastest players in baseball as their leadoff man in shortstop Trea Turner. The rest of their lineup includes postseason vets like Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux. Even though they aren’t having great seasons, every single one of them has had much success in the majors and are well known by fans and the media alike.

  Now look at the Guardians bullpen, they’re all pretty young with not that much experience in the MLB. They’re all looking to make an impact at the major league and be a part of this team’s future. They’ve struggled at times this season and against teams like the Yankees and Angels this season, they’ve had their struggles. Friday night, they may have had their best outing of the season.

   “That was one of the more fun games,” Manager Terry Francona said. “It’s good when you win, but I mean we went to guys in situations where we haven’t. Hentges, Stephan, Anthony Gose.”

After Zach Plesac exited in the seventh inning after a very solid start, Sam Hentges, who’s only in his second season with the team, came on to pitch. Hentges has been one of the best pitchers in Cleveland’s bullpen this season, but he had a tough task ahead of him after Trea Turner got on and now runners were at the corners with one out against Freddie Freeman. Avoiding the pressure, he got Freeman to ground into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the game tied at one.

   The next reliever on was Trevor Stephan, also in his second season. After a fantastic start to the 2022 season, he struggled in late May and early June, and had an ERA of 6.35 over his previous seven appearances. He went 1.1 innings, giving up just one hit and was able to get Smith, Muncy and Turner to fly out for a 1-2-3 eighth inning.  

   In the ninth inning, knowing they had just used Emmanuel Clase in three straight games and needed to give Eli Morgan another day’s rest, they turned to Anthony Gose, who was in his second season also, but was converted from an outfielder into a pitcher during the 2018 season. So, he’s not been a pitcher his whole life. He had a difficult situation to get out of in the ninth. After Oscar Gonzalez dropped a fly out in right, a man was on and there was only one out. What did Gose do, he struck out Gavin Lux and then got Trea Turner to flyout to end the inning. Once again, they held the Dodgers from scoring.

“We put Anthony in a tough spot, and it was really something,” Francona praised. “I’m really excited for those guys.

 Starter Zach Plesac praised Gose for how he handled himself.

“He’s another weapon we got,” Zach Plesac said of Gose. “He’s got a heavy power heater, a good slider and was able to show it tonight.”

   Enyel De Los Santos came on the in 10th in relief of Gose and finished the Dodgers off to preserve a 2-1 victory to start the three-game series.

“That’s a big ask right there,” Francona explained. “He did good, he made some pretty good pitches even on the guy he walked. Just didn’t get the call on a 3-2 but it’s ok.”

 The Guardians also held the Dodgers to just 1-13 with runners in scoring position on the night.

Plesac’s solid start

Zach Plesac got the start for the Guardians, and in front of the bright lights of the City of Angels and a crowd of over 48,000 in attendance, Plesac actually outdueled Clayton Kershaw, one of the best pitchers of the last decade plus. Plesac had a quality start of six innings, giving up just one run on five hits, the one hit was a home run by Cody Bellinger, the eighth home run Plesac has given up in nine starts, but Plesac did his job.

   “He had to bob and weave a little bit, he just mislocated a fastball to Bellinger,” Francona said, “But him being athletic helps him out, and I don’t know a lot of pitchers who are able to execute like he does.”

He wasn’t given that much run support, but he never allowed the Dodgers to score after that home run and got them to either ground out or fly out.

   “To be honest I never really look at the scoreboard,” Plesac said about run support. “I just pitch each inning and as the game goes on, I just keep doing my job.”

   His velocity was higher than average on all four of his pitches, with his four-seamer registering 92.6 miles per hour on average. He threw that pitch 44 times on the night, while mixing in a changeup 26 times. He threw his slider 24 times and threw nine curveballs, which he is starting to implement more and more into his arsenal.

Amed and Jose continue their streaks

With all the talks going around with trade rumors involving Amed Rosario, he couldn’t have picked a better time to get scorching hot. Amed Rosario, for the time being, has solidified his spot in the 2 hole in the Guardians lineup as Friday, he picked up, yet another hit to add to a new career high 11 game hit streak this month. He picked up his ninth double of the year in the first inning when he made contact off of a four-seam fastball by Clayton Kershaw. During this 11-game hit streak, Rosario is batting a monster .404 with four doubles, a triple and his first home run of the season to go along with five RBI. In the span of this streak, he’s risen his overall batting average from .234 to .270, and his slugging percentage from .302 to .508. Him clicking is just what the Guardians need from right now and what they knew he could bring to the table as Rosario lead the team in batting average in 2021.

   He’s not the only Guardian that has been on a hot streak. José Ramírez singled during the game off of Kershaw, which extended his hit streak nine games. During the nine-game streak, Ramírez is batting an absurd .432 with seven doubles, two home runs, nine RBI and six walks. Ramírez has been quite possibly the best hitter on the planet during the 2022 season, which he let Dodgers First baseman and 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman know during the game when he jokingly said, “You one of the best hitters… after me.” José Ramírez had been carrying the Guardians offense throughout some of the games the past week, but last night, his offense returned the favor with two runs to the Dodgers one, enough to get them the win.

Just Keep Winning

Before the 20-game stretch against teams without winning records, the Guardians sat at just 18-22. Things didn’t look too good, the team wasn’t hitting well, the bullpen was cracking late in games and the fans were frustrated with how they were performing. 21 games later, this team is clicking far better than anyone could’ve predicted. With their Friday night win against the Dodgers, the Guardians have now won five in a row, 14 of their last 17 and are for now a perfect 4-0 on this road trip. It won’t get any easier from here as they still have 16 straight games against teams with winning records, but to get a win like this on the road to start of a series is huge, especially for building the confidence and experience of the youngest team in baseball.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.