A doubleheader split is becoming the norm for this Guardians team; the club broke even yesterday, winning the top game 4-1 before losing the bottom 5-7.
Fortunately, losing is becoming the norm for the Minnesota Twins.
The Guardians are 8-2 in their last ten games, including strong series wins against the Astros and Blue Jays.
The Twins, on the other hand, are an anemic 4-6 over that same stretch.
The divergent records are a big reason behind the Guardians’ ascension to the top of the AL Central and Minnesota’s failure to make up any ground.
And turns out that folks are starting to take notice of this Guardians team.
Climb The Ladder
On Monday, Zach Buchanan and Chad Jennings of The Athletic came out with updated MLB power rankings with under 50 games left in the season.
And right off the bat, the pair noted that the Guardians both “excite” and “confuse” — including as much in the article’s title.
KID CLUTCH HAS DONE IT AGAIN!#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/4CIQMuHTMp
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) August 15, 2022
The confusion, though, isn’t from a smattering of up and down play.
Rather, the confusion stems from how completely unexpected a Guardians playoff appearance looked at the beginning of the season.
“. . . I avoided checking on the state of the AL playoff race. I returned a few days ago and needed to get up to speed for these Power Rankings.
“Which is an even longer way of saying, it was a matter of hours ago that I discovered the Guardians are in first place in the AL Central. At least I’m not alone in my surprise and confusion. I’ll quote our own Jason Lloyd at this point: The fact they’re still in it. How are they still in this? Turns out, good things happen when a handful of young players exceed expectations a little. Are the Guardians going to make the playoffs?”
The pair rated the Guardians the No. 12 team in professional baseball right now.
That slot comes in just behind the Seattle Mariners (No. 11) and ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays (No. 13) and the Twins (No. 14).
In fact, here’s what Buchanan and Jennings had to write about the Twins, from fellow Athletic writer Dan Hayes:
“An abhorrent, unsatisfying, disheartening Twins loss occurred last Saturday night. For like the umpteenth time this season.”
In that same list, the Guardians were the fifth-best American League team, behind just the Astros, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Yankees.
It certainly helps that Cleveland is coming off nice wins against both the ‘Stros and Jays — it shows they can hang with the best of them.
Right around the corner.
The Guardians weren’t supposed to be here.
The team has the youngest pro team by some margin (even younger than the average Triple-A roster!).
And Vegas set the team’s over/under win total at 76.5 before the season started.
But Cleveland just keeps winning.
Today will be the 14th time this season a rookie will make their debut for the Cleveland Guardians.
They are currently leading the AL Central by 2.5 games.
Terry Francona is a wizard 🤯#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/GECsqeEbhn
— Barstool Cleveland (@BS_Cleveland) August 15, 2022
In fact, 538 expects the Guards to obliterate that win total, projecting them to finish 86-76.
Those youngsters have proven they belong on the roster, not merely stop-gap options until guys like George Valera, Daniel Espino, and Bo Naylor make the pros.
Much like their basketball counterparts, the Cleveland Guardians have turbocharged their rebuild.
The club is stacked with young talent and ready to compete for years to come.
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