This Rays-Cleveland game was like watching two nearly identical teams face off. Two small market teams MLB is hoping exit the postseason early, and which get the “kids table” time slot when there are multiple games in a day. They pitch well, runs are hard to come by, and they are run by smart managers who work from the same playbook. (Note: it’s so much more fun when the Rays play a team whose manager is likely to do something old school and stupid).
The difference? The Guardians have Jose Ramirez, that’s the difference. Well, the Guardians have Jose Ramirez and someone capable of getting on base ahead of Jose Ramirez, that is really the difference.
Both pitchers pitched well, with Shane Bieber doing a better job than Shane McClanahan keeping the bases free — or, the Rays doing a worse job figuring out how to overcome Bieber’s smart pitching. The Rays fielding was a little sloppier, although none of the errors or might-have-been-errors turned into runs, those came on legit hits. Funny, the line on Bieber is that he’s no longer a strikeout pitcher, but his eight K’s against the Rays would suggest otherwise. Or just show that Rays hitters are all so overanxious to be the one who gets this offense humming that they are not being very choosy at the plate.
The Rays lone run came on this HR by Jose Siri, who had also made good contact against Bieber with a long out in his previous at bat (and made good contact, but to no avail, in yet another):
But the lead did not last long, as the following inning, Ramirez hit a two-out, two-run homer that decided the game. Interestingly, Cash challenged to see whether the lead runner had missed second base, and good for him for trying to buy his pitcher time to catch his breath, but it wasn’t a particularly close call.
Some fun tweet reactions:
Proof that pulling starters early didn’t start with Kevin Cash:
That was the the longest postseason start for a Guardians pitcher since Roberto Hernandez in 2007.— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) October 7, 2022
Neither of those names were used in 2007.
This Rays-Guardians game feels like baseball from another era— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) October 7, 2022
Two starters going seven innings, dead ball era scoring, and barely enough time to get a pizza delivered before the game was over.
From the department of “strange baseball facts”
Jose Siri homered off of Shane Bieber.— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) October 7, 2022
Jose Ramirez homered off of Shane McClanahan.
It's the first game in playoff history where two (different) hitters with the same first name homered off (different) pitchers with the same first name, per @kennyjackelen.
And maybe it’s too soon, but this made me laugh:
Looks like the Rays learned from their mistakes, and are leaving their dominant starter stay third time through, this is gr... oh— Esteban Navarro Garaiz (@EstebanNG_) October 7, 2022
Whatever superstitious practices you used today — switch them up for tomorrow!