This was the game in the series that the Guardians absolutely had to win, and they did so. The Tigers got seven innings of one-run ball from Michael Lorenzen, but despite a ton of chances against Shane Bieber, they couldn’t come up with the hits when they needed them as they fell 2-0 on Tuesday night.
The Tigers had some chances early in this one and couldn’t cash in. That’s generally a bad sign with a top starter like Shane Bieber on the mound. So it would play out all game long.
Riley Greene singled with one out in the first and stole second, but Javy Báez and Nick Maton struck out. In the second, they got one-out singles from Akil Baddoo and Matt Vierling, and then Andy Ibáñez reached on a Jose Ramirez error to load the bases. They couldn’t get a run across as Jake Rogers struck out and Zack McKinstry flew out to right to end the threat.
That wasn’t ideal, as the Guardians were already on the board. Steven Kwan led off the bottom of the first by dumping a soft serve double down the left field line. Amed Rosario singled through the right side of the infield, and a sacrifice fly scored Kwan from third. Michael Lorenzen was able to escape without further trouble, and he bounced back with a quick 1-2-3 second inning.
The Tigers got another baserunner and an opportunity to even the score in the third as Greene led off with a walk. A Báez ground ball forced Greene at second, with the Tigers shortstop replacing him at first with one out. Maton struck out again, and that left it up to Spencer Torkelson. Bieber fell behind 2-1 as Báez stole second base. Unfortunately, Torkelson knocked a single through the right side of the infield, but Will Brennan threw Báez out at home to turn the Tigers away. It was an incredibly close play and worth taking the shot to score, but a pretty sweet swim move from Báez left him just missing the edge of the plate as catcher Cam Gallagher applied the tag.
At least they were creating opportunities.
Lorenzen picked up two quick outs in the bottom of the third, including a Zack McKinstry throw to get Gallagher that Torkelson made kind of a diving stretch to haul in while still keeping one cleat on first base. Amed Rosario singled again, bringing up Jose Ramirez with a runner on. Less than ideal, but Lorenzen dusted him with a fourseamer to end the inning.
Baddoo singled to lead off the fourth, but Matt Vierling struck out on a called strike three that was several inches below the zone on a Bieber slider. Ibáñez flew out to deep right center field, which allowed Baddoo to tag up and take second base. For the fourth straight inning, the Tigers had a runner in scoring position, but Rogers grounded out.
Lorenzen had settled in pretty nicely at this point. He spun a quick fourth, striking out Josh Bell along the way. The top of the fifth felt familiar, as McKinstry reached on an Andres Gimenez error. Greene struck out, but McKinstry stole second in the process. That made it five straight innings with a runner in scoring position. Same result, as Báez struck out swinging, and Maton was called out on another slider that was actually a couple inches below the zone. We’ve seen worse, but Bieber was getting anything above the ankle with his breaking balls.
Will Brennan singled to right with one out in the bottom half of the inning, but Lorenzen collected a pair of ground ball outs to turn the Guardians away from developing a threat. The second of which required a pretty great play from Báez to get the speedy Kwan.
A great play by Javy, an even better reaction from Miggy— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 9, 2023
The sixth inning began with another Torkelson single, this time a liner to center field. Baddoo followed with a ground ball single up the middle for his third hit of the day, and the Tigers were in business. Vierling struck out and the Guardians held a conference on the mound to figure out what to do with Andy Ibáñez as Bieber’s pitch count reached 100. Whatever they decided, it worked as Ibáñez grounded into a double play.
Six straight innings with a runner in scoring position, and no dice. Good job developing opportunities against a good pitcher. No so much the driving them in portion of the game.
The bottom of the sixth opened with another nice defensive effort. Rosario spanked a single down the line in right field and tried to stretch it into a double. An accurate throw from Vierling and a quick tag from Báez sent Rosario back to the dugout. Ramirez flew out to left field, and Lorenzen locked into a lengthy battle with Josh Naylor before getting him to ground out.
Lorenzen was still only at 81 pitches through six, allowing a double and four singles to three strikeouts. He hadn’t walked a batter, helping his efficiency as well. Ignoring his first start on April 15, Lorenzen had only allowed seven runs in the 23 innings since. The rotation has certainly needed the help other than Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Guardians turned to everyone’s favorite reliever, James Karinchak in the seventh. He struck out Jake Rogers, and then walked McKinstry. The Tigers leadoff man was immediately looking to steal second with Greene at the dish. A.J. Hinch continues to preach aggression without remorse on the basepaths. As it turned out, he didn’t need to steal second, as Greene walked, and once again, the Tigers were in business. Báez struck out, but with Maton up looking to complete the golden sombrero, Terry Francona made the odd move to turn to lefty Sam Hentges. That presumably suited Hinch just fine, as he was able to pinch hit Eric Haase, but Hentges dropped in a pair of curveballs, then bent one down and in and Haase couldn’t hold up. The LOBsters were in abundance.
Lorenzen came back out for the seventh, and again wrapped up the inning quickly with a fly out and a pair of ground ball outs to turn things over to the offense once again. Really good outing for Lorenzen in this one.
For the eighth straight inning, the Tigers put a runner in scoring position when Torkelson led off the eighth with a screaming double to right field, his third hit on the night. Hinch, turning to his right-handed hitters, pinch-hit Jonathan Schoop for Baddoo. Schoop hammered a line drive to left center field, but the man has no luck, as Straw hauled it in with an over the shoulder catch on the run.
What a snag by Myles Straw! #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/JkjMaJcAWd— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) May 10, 2023
The problem, was that Torkelson was off the base rather than tagging and taking third. Big mistake. If Straw hadn’t caught it, the ball was going to the wall anyway and Tork would’ve scored no matter what. Instead, Vierling flew out to center, Tork tagged and advanced to third, and Ibáñez grounded out to end the threat.
You can’t win them all, but good grief this game was frustrating. 11 LOBsters to this point, and the Tigers were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
Jose Cisnero took over in the bottom half, allowing a leadoff single to Will Brennan. Brennan stole second and Gallagher tried to bunt him over to third, popping out instead. Cisnero just reared back and blew Steven Kwan away with a steady diet of fastballs. That left it up to Rosario as the Guardians hoped to pick up a little breathing room heading into the ninth. He got it done, driving a ball just over a leaping Vierling at the edge of the warning track for an RBI triple. 2-0 Guardians.
The Tigers gave Jose Ramirez a free pass, and Hinch brought in Tyler Alexander to handle the left-handed hitting Josh Naylor. He did so, but now the Tigers had the extremely difficult task of getting to Emmanuel Clase.
Jake Rogers grounded out, but Zack McKinstry managed an opposite field single against Clase. Unfortunately, Riley Greene flew out, and Javy Báez grounded out to end it.
On the plus side, the Tigers developed all the chances they wasted, and against very good pitching. Torkelson and Baddoo each had three hits. Greene had a single, walked twice, and stole a base. They just couldn’t come up with the clutch knocks tonight.
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez will look to keep his recent run going with the series on the line on Wednesday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. ET. RHP Peyton Battenfield will go for Cleveland.
Dillon Dingler is raging down at Erie
Dillon Dingler is back at it for the @erie_seawolves!— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) May 9, 2023
The @tigers' No. 14 prospect has 6 homers in his last 9 games. pic.twitter.com/gvutznB5cV