The Guardians did it.
The team rode a momentum high into its most recent series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Recent series wins against the Rockies, Athletics, and Rangers had propelled the team out of whatever May funk they were in and right back into contention.
But would it all collapse against the Los Angeles Dodgers?
As a matter of fact, it would not.
David vs. Goliath
No matter how you slice it, the series against LA fit the classic David versus Goliath narrative.
The glitz and glamor of Hollywood versus the often maligned and underappreciated city on Lake Erie.
A city whose last championship was 2016, when LeBron James suited up for the Cavs, versus a city whose football team (reminder, there are TWO in LA) just won the Super Bowl (and, for good measure, whose basketball and baseball teams won their respective championships in 2020).
High Tech versus Rust Belt.
Highest payroll in baseball versus the league’s youngest squad.
The scrappy Midwest versus the Golden Coast.
And somehow, someway, the Cleveland Guardians pulled out the win.
The 5-3 final saw a vintage Shane Bieber performance.
Through 6.1 innings, Bieber earned just two runs against nine strikeouts.
And on offense, it took a full nine innings to finally secure the lead.
Andrés Giménez once again came up clutch, sending a go-ahead single up the middle in the top of the ninth inning.
Ernie Clement followed it up with a sacrifice fly that extended the lead to 5-3.
With the win, the Guardians remain in the thick of the American League playoff race.
The squad has secured a Wild Card spot, sitting even with the Tampa Bay Rays and half a game above the Boston Red Sox.
But in the AL Central, Cleveland’s wins ensured the division race stayed within grasp.
The Guardians are a single game behind the first-place Minnesota Twins.
The Twins, who needed wins of their own, did the exact opposite of Cleveland, dropping two of three to the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks.
And guess who Cleveland gets to battle with next?
Guardians fans were naturally stoked by the result:
Your Cleveland Guardians:
-youngest team in baseball
-won 15 of last 19
-won 6 straight series
-came to within 1 game of 1st in division
-own a wild card spot
-have the best 2B in WAR in the AL
-have the MVP favorite at 3B
-have 2 ROY candidates#ForTheLand
— C0RY (@c0ry024) June 19, 2022
— Carlos Laboy (@Los_216) June 19, 2022
CLEMENT SAC FLY TO GIVE US A HUGEEEEE INSURANCE RUN 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨
WE MAY JUST DO IT FOLKS #Fortheland
— 216 Baseball Podcast (@216BaseballPod) June 19, 2022
Dodgers Payroll: $260 Million
Guardians Payroll: $68 Million
The Guardians spend nearly four times as less and took 2 of 3 on the road. This team is something.#ForTheLand
— Joe Collins (@joedcollins1) June 20, 2022
— 216 Baseball Podcast (@216BaseballPod) June 20, 2022
With this start, Shane Bieber has now had 36 consecutive road starts in which he has given up 3 or less runs. That is the longest streak in MLB history since Earned runs started being recorded in 1913#ForTheLand #Guardians
— Joe Collins (@joedcollins1) June 19, 2022
— Cleveland Baseball Insider (@CBIonSI) June 19, 2022
Fans: “It will always be the Indians to me.”
Also fans after Guardians win 6 straight series & are a game out of first: pic.twitter.com/4SQGxPtFtg
— McNeil (@Reflog_18) June 19, 2022
The View From Monday
Yes, next up, the Guardians will fly to the Twin Cities to take on Minnesota.
Obviously, the playoff implications of this series are massive.
But it’s not just the next three games that could dictate Cleveland’s playoff future.
Over the next 11 games, Cleveland plays the Twins in a three-game series, then hosts the Boston Red Sox for a four-game homestead.
Oh yeah, and after Boston?
Cleveland gets the Twins, again.
The Guardians can obviously overtake the Twins this week in the AL Central, which would be huge.
But the team needs wins against the Red Sox as well, who sit just behind them in the Wild Card spot.
If Cleveland goes close to .500 over the next 11 games, not much will change between now and then.
But if Cleveland can keep the hot streak going, they’ll have separated themselves from not just one playoff rival, but two.