It took 10 innings.
Only three runs TOTAL.
Two errors along the way.
But the Guardians did it.
The club waltzed into Los Angeles and hung tough with one of the best sides in the National League.
With the 2-1 win over the Dodgers, Cleveland is now just one, single, measly game out of first in the AL Central.
Forget the wild card, this team is banging on the door of outright contention.
The tightened division race came after the Minnesota Twins dropped Friday’s game to the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2.
Which is even better news for Cleveland.
The best thing Cleveland can do is keep riding high and get a little help from Minnesota along the way.
But even if Minnesota wins out, the Guardians have a shot to take over the AL Central in a few days.
That’s because Cleveland heads to the Twin Cities after the Dodgers series.
It figures to be a pivotal test of Cleveland’s long-term aspirations and competitiveness.
Fortunately, they’re hitting Minnesota at just the right time.
Guardians fans knew the series against Los Angeles would be a tough one.
Many were cautiously optimistic, given how the team has played of late.
But still, the Dodgers have developed a winning pedigree for the last half-decade, winning it all as recently as 2020.
So naturally, fans were amped by the win:
— Cleveland Baseball Insider (@CBIonSI) June 18, 2022
COOKED UP SOMETHING FRESH IN THE LAB
— 216 Baseball Podcast (@216BaseballPod) June 18, 2022
The https://t.co/74WXlNxfxc crew didn’t even list the Guardians bullpen as a top 10 group coming into the season.
Tonight they improved their league best 1.63 ERA to seal another huge win. #ForTheLand
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) June 18, 2022
The Guardians get it done in extras and take Game 1 in LA!!! What a night!! #ForTheLand
— Brady Hamilton (@Brady_216) June 18, 2022
THE YOUNGEST TEAM in baseball just beat a team with the SECOND highest payroll in baseball. Unbelievable win #ForTheLand
— The216Guardians (@The216Gaurdians) June 18, 2022
THE BOYS ARE 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥. Plesac was awesome. Bullpen was dominant. Palacios with the clutch RBI. ENYEL SLAMS THE DOOR! This team is fun. Keep it rolling boys!! #ForTheLand #GuardiWWWWWins pic.twitter.com/YFLC8tmxMu
— The Wizard of the Guardians (@sward_1212) June 18, 2022
— Will Hozey (@callmewillis) June 18, 2022
— Andy Jardy (@AndyJardy) June 18, 2022
Despite not scoring many runs, the game was far from a pitcher’s duel.
The Guardians went for six hits on the day, while Los Angeles upped the ante with eight of their own.
Nonetheless, excellent defense from both sides (minus a few errors for Cleveland) ensured the game didn’t get out of hand.
Not to be lost in the victory parade is who the win came against.
The Dodgers sent Clayton Kershaw to the mound.
And he lived up to his 2.12 ERA.
The three-time Cy Young winner went five innings, surrendering only the Naylor sac fly.
Surviving Kershaw was a major win for the club in its own right.
For his part, Guardians pitcher Zach Plesac continued a strong midseason streak.
While he only struck out a single batter, Plesac gave up just one run through six innings of work.
Over his last four starts, Plesac has a strong 2.63 ERA, holding opposing hitters to just a .237 average.
He’s also managed to go six innings deep consistently over this stretch, whereas earlier in the season he often struggled to make it deep into games.
Lest you think surviving Kershaw means an end to Cleveland’s pitching battles, the Guardians will face off against Julio Urias on Saturday.
Urias enters the game with a solid 2.80 ERA.
He’ll take on Cal Quantrill, who has also quietly been strong through his last two starts, both wins.
Who knows, if things go perfect, maybe the Guardians will be tied atop the AL Central by Sunday.
One can wish, right?