Guardians excluded from series finale with White Sox

CLEVELAND – There’s nothing left to compare to last year. The Guardians know they face a tougher battle than they were 50 games into the 2022 season. Now they just have to figure out how to get out.

Cleveland’s bats were silenced against White Sox starter Michael Kopech, who allowed just two hits in seven scoreless innings. Goalies starter Cal Quantrill couldn’t go more than four innings, allowing six runs on four hits and three walks. The result was a 6-0 loss for Cleveland in the series finale against Chicago at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Cleveland has dropped in seven of its last nine contests. Against the White Sox this series, the club had five points in three games. The Guardians have also been ruled out six times this season, which is tied for fourth in the Majors. But the team hopes to have overcome the worst. And if they’ve hit rock bottom, the only direction to go is up.

“I think we’re all tested,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona. “I believe we are strong enough to fight, but we will find out because we are tested. All of us.”

Year after year, the Guardians rely on All-Star third baseman José Ramírez to help bring the roster to life. Cleveland, once again off to a slow start, still seems to be counting on Ramírez to single-handedly lead the offense until all the bats start heating up. It was no different this year.

Going into Monday, Ramírez had a .272/.355/.473 slash line with a 116 wRC+ and a 1.4 fWAR. But the rest of those with at least 50 plate appearances combined for a .221/.292/.327 slash line with a 72 wRC+ and a -0.9 fWAR.

“We have to clean up some things,” Quantrill said. “We need to manage the bases better. We don’t have to step on the first batters like I did today. We have to score when we have chances to score, and I think we have to make sure that we give ourselves a chance to pass the baton to a really good one. [bullpen] with a leash. It’s the little things for us, and I don’t think we’ve done a very good job with them – myself included, especially today.

The Guardians bullpen showed they could be effective, mustering five perfect innings after Quantrill’s early departure. Closer, Emmanuel Clase has seen his speed increase and is slowly starting to see more swing and miss against his slider. And Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee have both been exciting additions to that rotation.

The team knows it’s about to break through. Now he just has to find a way to do it.

Before Wednesday’s game, Francona explained how difficult it was to find batsmen for infielder Tyler Freeman, who served as a depth play on the Cleveland bench. Gabriel Arias saw more time in right field to try and get his bat going. The team is constantly evaluating every possible choice they can make to find a way out on the winning side of the equation. So far, the Guardians haven’t found the magic answer.

Perhaps that answer will come when receiver Bo Naylor inevitably gets his shot at the Majors. Maybe the club just needs another day off Thursday to reset and let Francona’s message from his Sunday night squad meeting in New York settle. Maybe the Guardians just need Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie in the rotation to feel whole again. Or maybe the team will continue to search for answers much longer than they would like.

But Francona is counting on her experience to find a way out of this slippage. And he explained what this experience taught him.

“Work hard, pay attention to detail, all the things we’ve talked about since spring training started,” Francona said. “That’s why we do it. It’s easy when you win eight in a row. It’s easy to pat them on the back. That’s why we try to live with it, because when it gets tough, that’s when you really find out. You will have to dig deep. »

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