Earlier this season, the Cleveland Guardians had (generally) no issue winning blowouts.
The team could bang out ten-plus runs like it was nothing, crushing opponents like the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals.
To be fair, that also might have something to do with the Reds and Royals…
But on Saturday, the Guardians displayed a strong resiliency, eking out a 3-2 win over Minnesota in ten innings.
Here are three things that went right in the extra-long game:
1. Shane Bieber’s Overhand and Underhand
Bieber took the mound Saturday coming off a tough performance against the Blue Jays the week before.
He was consistently striking out between five and seven batters through generally five to seven innings.
But against the Blue Jays, Bieber didn’t manage a single strikeout and was pulled in the fourth inning.
So all eyes were on the Biebs to see if he could find his form.
Excellent bounce-back outing from Shane Bieber tonight..
6 solid IP, allowing 1 run (solo HR by Urshela) on 7 hits w/ 3 BB and 7 K
All square at 1 run apiece as #Guardians come to bat in the 7th
— Jensen Lewis (@JLEWFifty) May 15, 2022
And he delivered.
Through six innings of work, Bieber gave up a single earned run (a second-inning homer to Gio Urshela), and fanned seven batters.
And while the pitches were great, he made a key lob in the bottom of the fifth to keep things locked in at 1-1.
Urshela sent a bouncer back up to Bieber, who calmly tossed it to Austin Hedges, who then flipped it to first, completing a sublime 1-2-3 double play.
While solid pitching would have been handy Friday night, when the offense was popping, it was even more crucial Saturday.
Bieber’s strong outing, combined with solid relief, kept the Guardians in a game that was in a deadlock all evening.
Let’s just hope fans didn’t come for fireworks.
2. Franmil Reyes
In a game of little offensive production in the form of runs, the team needed someone, anyone, in a Guardians jersey to make it to home plate.
The game wasn’t devoid of hits; on the contrary.
The Guardians combined for 17 hits, but only managed five runs between both clubs.
So while we could spotlight Steven Kwan’s two-hit outing, or the once-again nice showing from Andrés Jiménez, designated hitter Franmil Reyes deserves some love.
He’s been derided all season for his slow start; it was one of the only flaws in an otherwise solid starting lineup.
But Reyes found a way to get aboard Saturday.
In addition to a walk, Reyes knocked in a second-inning run for Cleveland on a single.
So far against the Twins, Reyes has batted a respectable .286, far better than the blanks he was firing at the season’s start.
FRANMIL REYES GREAT AT BAT CAPPED OFF BY AN RBI SINGLE TO GIVE US AN EARLY 1-0 LEAD 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨#Fortheland
— 216 Baseball Podcast (@216BaseballPod) May 14, 2022
Any little leaguer will tell you: six innings of work is tough.
Any pro will also tell you: nine innings of work is no joke.
You get the point.
But the Guardians displayed excellent resilience and endurance on Saturday.
It was a nothing-going game that could have easily spiraled out of control had Bieber and Co. not kept the club in it.
Add on top the fact that the bats were going but the runs weren’t coming, and it could have been a truly dismaying night.
But to their credit, Cleveland continued playing its ball, knowing the breakthrough was coming.
Blowouts are fun.
But sometimes it’s just nice watching a team pull one out.