After a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Guardians find themselves once again at .500.
And look, 40-40 isn’t a bad place to be.
Just ask the Royals, Reds, Athletics, and Nationals, who each have fewer than 30 wins on the season.
And if you asked most Guardians fans in the preseason if splitting the first 80 games down the middle sounded amenable, most would likely have said yes.
But in June, we came to expect a caliber of play so much higher than this.
Cleveland was 36-28 just two weeks ago.
But the Tigers series has encapsulated perfectly the Guardians’ recent struggles.
Cleveland surrendered 28 runs in four games against the Tigers.
On the flip side, the Guardians managed only 10 total runs.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter who is on the mound when the offense is averaging 2.5 runs a night.
But that’s been the story so far in July.
I’m going to say this one time.
We are allowed to be upset with how poorly the team is playing. It’s embarrassingly bad.
Yes, the record is still better than expected.
I know it’s a crazy concept- but TWO things can be true at once.
— 216 Baseball Podcast (@216BaseballPod) July 6, 2022
Across six games so far this month, Cleveland has scored just 15 runs, or 2.5 a game.
Jose Ramirez looks like a shell of his former self and has now gone 12 games without an RBI, the longest drought for the third baseman this season.
After starting this season strong, rookie Steven Kwan is now batting just .207 in his last seven games.
In this series, Cleveland didn’t get over the four-run mark once; by contrast, the Tigers managed five runs or more three times.
The fourth — a 4-1 win for Detroit.
Cleveland is downright dreadful when scoring fewer than five runs, and this series proved that point completely.
Another problem: the hits are not translating into runs.
In the last two games against Detroit, Cleveland managed just six runs on 19 hits.
A low hit-to-run ratio is a problem that comes with the territory of being a hit-for-contact team.
But that problem becomes exacerbated when guys like Ramirez and Franmil Reyes aren’t using their power to drive in runs.
But the blame can’t just be laid at the feet of Cleveland’s batters.
The pitchers were exceptional at stinking up the joint, especially in games three and four, where the Guardians lost by a combined 19-6.
Shane Bieber was uncharacteristically poor on Wednesday, with five earned on seven hits in less than six innings of service.
And closer Emmanuel Clase also pitched an unusual game, giving up his first earned run since May 17.
Unfortunately, the Guardians aren’t good in blowouts.
The big man is starting to heat up.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/4KcWWeO80D
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) July 6, 2022
Cleveland is just 8-11 in blowouts favoring either team; in one-run games, the club is a much stronger 14-9.
It speaks to how critical the pitching is to Cleveland’s success and lack thereof.
And unfortunately, none of the games in Detroit were particularly close; even a 5-3 loss featured eight scoreless innings for the Guardians.
But when the pitchers don’t have it, it’s almost as though fans know an L is heading to Cleveland’s tally before the last out is called.
This was supposed to be a series that Cleveland regained their footing after a hard-fought series against the Yankees.
Instead, Cleveland slipped further behind in the playoff race.
Fortunately, this team is prone to streaks; hopefully, this one ends soon and the team gets back to its winning ways.
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