Andres Gimenez greets Myles Straw as Gabriel Arias congratulates Steven Kwan, right, after a win over the Twins on May 7. (Phil Long – Associated Press)
While the Guardians are having trouble scoring runs, make sure the other team doesn’t score any runs. That’s the formula the G-Men used May 7 at Progressive Field.
Starting pitcher Cal Quantrill held the Twins hitless until Alex Kirilloff singled over the head of second baseman Andres Giminez with two out in the top of the seventh at Progressive Field. Quantrill walked Joey Gallo but then Jose Miranda was called out on strikes to end the inning.
James Karinchak allowed one walk in the eighth and Emmanuel Clase picked up his 12th save in a scoreless ninth to make the two runs the Guardians scored in the bottom of the first hold up for a 2-0 victory. Along with the 4-3 win on May 6 it gave the Guards their first series win after losing five straight.
— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) May 7, 2023
The music was blasting in the Guardians’ clubhouse, something that happened only five other times (6-9) after a home game this season. Players were laughing and razzing each other good-naturedly. But none of that changes the fact that hitting and scoring is a monumental struggle for the Guardians.
— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) May 7, 2023
President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti met with reporters before the game and preached patience. Patience and the fact he doesn’t have a magic wand with which to conjure up a trade.
“Right now we’re really in a place where most of our answers have to come from within because it’s not a time of high transactions across the league, other than maybe on the margins with waiver claims and really small trades,” Antonetti said. “So our primary focus is, how do we understand what’s happening with each player? What does that player need to do to be the best version of himself and help him work towards that plan, because what’s going to lead to us being successful is helping the guys that are here get on track.”
Starting pitcher Zach Plesac and right fielder Oscar Gonzalez were demoted to Columbus last week. Gonzalez was hitting .192 with one home run and five RBI in 73 at-bats over 25 games. He has struck out 15 times and walked only twice. He hit .296 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI in 91 games last season with 15 walks and 75 strikeouts.
“We just need to help him get everyday at-bats and maybe restore some of his confidence,” Antonetti said. “We don’t ever expect Oscar to lead the league in walks. But just having maybe a more disciplined approach where he understands which pitches he can actually do damage and put in play hard so he continues to learn and grow as a young hitter.
“There are lots of guys who have an initial successful major league opportunity and then they have to make some adjustments and oftentimes that necessitates going to the minor leagues to figure some of those things out. And so I’m hopeful Oscar can do that and then find his way back here to make a similar impact that he did last year.”
The Guardians (18-16) are last in the Majors with 18 home runs, 28th in runs scored with 122 and 29th with 255 hits. Antonetti knows those numbers, but he isn’t worried. He believes the Guards are just off to a slow start more than maybe they overachieved as a team last year or that opponents have figured out how to pitch to the Guardians. Shortstop Amed Rosario is hitting .214 with 36 strikeouts, 16 runs scored and one home run in 117 at-bats. He finished last season batting .283 with 86 runs scored.
“I believe it’s a slow start,” Antonetti said, referring to the team. “I think one of the things that’s a hallmark for us is the ability we have to generate runs once we’re on the bases. And we just haven’t yet done a great job of getting on base consistently as we want. So hopefully the more we get on base, the better we’ll be at generating runs. And there have been some situational things this year that we haven’t yet been as good as we were at times in the past.”
With all their hitting struggles, the Guardians finished the weekend 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Twins in the AL Central Division. The Tigers, a half-game behind the Guards at 15-18, will be at Progressive Field on May 8 for the start of a three-game series.
TIGERS AT GUARDIANS
When: 6:10 p.m., May 8
Where: Progressive Field
Records: Tigers 15-18, Guardians 16-18
Pitchers: Tigers — Joey Wentz (0-3, 6.67); Guardians — Tanner Bibee (1-0, 2.45)
TV: Bally Sports Great Lakes