TORONTO – The Cleveland Guardians suck.
At home plate, they’re a pesky group, fouling the pitches, finding holes regardless of defensive alignment, with Jose Ramirez lurking in the three holes to land big hits. On the mound, they continue to produce pitchers that can remove contact and generate swings and misses. Defensively, they are pretty airtight.
“I really like this team – I think we have a good chance this year,” said Cal Quantrill, the Canadian right-hander who posted seven shutout innings Friday in an 8-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. “We are a complete baseball team. I think we surprise the teams when we come to play, they don’t know what they’re getting into, we have so many young people playing. The fact that I refer to someone else as a child is just ridiculous, I’m not much older (he’s 27). We’re so young and it’s just fun. It is an exciting bench. I’m sure you’ve seen the emotion between Josh Naylor and me, but we’re not even the craziest of the bunch.
The fact that they play in junior college American League Central certainly helps, but the Blue Jays have certainly gotten all they can manage so far, battling tooth and nail on Saturday afternoon for a 2- 1.
Solo shots from Matt Chapman in the fifth inning – ending a 16 inning drought – and Teoscar Hernandez in the seventh inning against Triston McKenzie were the difference as the Blue Jays improved to 2-4 against the Guardians this season with their second win in seven games.
But it was a touchdown and go all afternoon in front of a crowd of 44,977, with starter Mitch White having to go a solid 4.2 innings on a run, five relievers forced to navigate traffic to shut down the things and the offense managing very little despite a lot of solid contact.
Until Chapman’s home run in the fifth, all they got on McKenzie was a brace from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the first, extending his hitting streak to 22 games, and heads for Chapman in the second and Hernandez in the fourth as several lasers rotated. in an out.
Consider this sampling:
At Lourdes Gurriel Jr., underscoring right at 102.2 mph with an expected .630 batting average in the first;
Alejandro Kirk’s understudy later in this round with an expected average of .920;
Guerrero groundout on the second hit at 105.1 mph and an expected .560 batting average;
Bo Bichette’s late-inning double-play pitch on the fourth hit at 106.7 mph off the bat with an expected average of .490.
It’s going to happen over the course of a long season, but for a roster that’s not clicking right now, it’s all the more infuriating.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating when you hit the ball, you take good shots and nothing happens, especially right now,” Hernandez said. “You just have to keep going, keep grinding every day and help our teammates stay focused, do what they’ve been doing, keep hitting the ball hard because those bad times are going to go away and the good times are going to come.”
Highlighting how difficult it is for them to score at the moment, a potential extra run in the seventh was erased at the plate when Andres Gimenez made a terrific play to prevent the Santiago Espinal bouncer from reaching the outfield and shot off balance towards the plate to get Raimel Tapia on a play that survived a replay challenge.
Either way, they created more attacking opportunities on Saturday and caretaker manager John Schneider saw more bite in his team’s appearances, although he still wants to see it more consistently.
“We have the ability to change the leverage of a game in one go, but it’s going to take more than that,” he explained. “It’s going to take consistent beatings and getting down to the basics and when that big hit comes it’s even better with guys.”
The replay decision nearly weighed heavily in the eighth when Naylor doubled with two outs over Yimi Garcia to put the tying run in goal-scoring position and Schneider turned to Jordan Romano, who walked Gimenez before pulling Oscar Gonzalez out.
Romano then locked in the ninth for his 26th stoppage in his fifth all-round run this season.
“He’s showing he can do it,” Schneider said, noting his closest was expected to kick off on Saturday no matter what and should be ready on Sunday if needed. “I trust him anywhere.”
This series is the second between the clubs and they will not meet again unless it is post-season. The Guardians took three of four in a May series at Cleveland and the way they found holes during that set prompted the Blue Jays to “definitely scale back the aggressiveness in terms of change (for the current series) and “we kind of did like a whole thing together after this show anyway,” Schneider said.
“We kind of got a little more neutral, if you will, especially with some right-handed hitters,” he continued. “But that’s how they play and it’s to their credit. So hopefully when they put it on the pitch we’ll be in the right place. But they’re very diligent about putting the ball in play. And if you look at them as a whole, they’re busting their ass down the line, they’re putting the ball in play. Obviously that’s something they think is important. So we have to be able to react.
After a rocky start — White’s first seven pitches were balls — the right-hander acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline has settled in to keep Cleveland largely under wraps. At 94.6 mph, his fastball speed was up from his 93.7 average, while his slider was 86.2, up from 85.
He threw a handful of curveballs and a few changes, mostly left-handed. White also featured his slider against them, including a back foot beauty that Ramirez swung in the third, prompting the star to drive his bat into the ground.
“Definitely using my legs a little better,” White said of the speed boost. “The last outing was probably a low point in terms of the bike. Maybe a little adrenaline too. I take it.”
When it comes to tackling the Guardians papercut death attack, White said his approach was to make sure he “commanded the ball in the area and induced low contact. Spin the ball well, but just keep it there and let them out instead of grinding long ABs and wasting throws.
It’s Cleveland’s MO, and it’s unlike the bash-and-cash ball the Blue Jays typically play against their American League East rivals. Being able to win in different ways is important and they’ll need to be at their best against Shane Bieber in Sunday’s series finale to stave off the Guardians out the door.