CLEVELAND — Finally, for a moment, the Guardians could exhale a bit. But if you’re a Cleveland fan, you haven’t had the luxury of a no-stress game very often during the team’s run of near-constant one-run games.
It seems as though just about every inning the Guardians have played could be described as high leverage. Through the club’s first 52 games, they’ve played 25 one-run games. No other team in baseball has more than 20. Two of the Guardians’ last three series have included three consecutive one-run games.
Time and time again, a talented pitching staff combined with a badly struggling offense has left every run coming at a premium — and just about every day, the potential tying run has been at the plate with two outs in the ninth.
It’s a high-intensity way to play night after night. It’s also something the Guardians, in a way, have relished.
“I say pressure either busts pipes or makes diamonds, and I like to shine,” said reliever Xzavion Curry. “That’s when you’re really getting tested. Your mental and your physical — can you sit there and weather the storm of whether your body’s feeling good, whether your mind’s feeling good. So I like the pressure situations because it really shows what you’re made of.”
The Guardians have been in a proverbial Finals Week lately, with one exam after another. Manager Terry Francona noted recently that the offense, especially, was being tested in a lineup-wide slump. Nearly always playing in one-run or tied games doesn’t exactly relax the nerves, either.
The Guardians lost three consecutive one-run games to the New York Mets a week ago. Then Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, Emmanuel Clase bent but didn’t break, as he turned it into a one-run score but ultimately converted the save in the ninth.
That was followed by a rough 2-1 loss in which the Guardians pitching staff allowed just two hits, but the offense couldn’t make it count. And on Sunday, the lineup finally came through in a clutch situation, as Jose Ramirez — the club’s last hope in the ninth — lined a ball into the right-center gap that scored two runs and gave the Guardians a walk-off 4-3 win.
It was the first deep breath in quite some time for an offense that was begging to support its pitching staff in a big moment. On a day when the lineup needed something to happen that would lead to a celebration, Ramirez ended up with a bubble gum bucket on his head. The one-run games are difficult enough. The Guardians were need of a finish like Sunday’s game.
“This is a hard game. It’s not going to be always come our way, and this is a long season,” said Ramirez. “We’re going to prepare because something’s going to happen, positive and negative, but we have to be ready for all of those.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Guardians lead Major League Baseball in 1-run games in 2023
Source: Yahoo Sports