April 20, 2024

The Cleveland Guardians are off to a terrific start to their 2024 season. It’s not easy to start the season on a West Coast trip and overall nine straight road games. But the Guardians are not complaining. They took three out of four from Oakland. A team that soon will be gone from Oakland and not enough fans are in attendance. A four-game sweep would’ve been great, It’s not easy to win four straight against any team. No matter how good or how lousy the team is. Here’s how it all went down throughout the four-game weekend series, which began on Thursday.

Thursday – Opening Day

The Guardians attacked for five runs in the fourth inning. No home runs. They just kept putting the ball in play with singles and doubles. How about Shane Bieber? He was sensational on Opening Day. His changeup and slider looked sharp and nasty. I’m wondering if he worked on his mechanics during the off-season. He was that good on Thursday. Bieber silenced Oakland’s bats through six innings and struck out of them.

Guardians win 8-0. First-time manager Stephen Vogt, who retired as an Oakland A’s two years ago, won his first game as a manager. Congrats to coach Vogt. Cleveland fans are hoping that he can have long-term success with the Guardians. He is the successor of a great manager like Terry Francona.

Friday

JOSE! JOSE! JOSE! JOSE! Guardians third baseman José Ramirez already got the party started. He hit his first home run of the season. A 2-run home run in the first inning put the Guardians on the board. Andrés Giménez joined the party himself. He finished the game with three hits, adding runs for the Guardians in the fifth and seventh innings. The Cleveland Guardians would go on to beat the A’s 6-4.

Saturday

Bay Area native Steven Kwan homered and reached base four times, and the Cleveland Guardians had 15 hits in a 12-3 rout of the Oakland Athletics before a Saturday afternoon crowd of just 5,425.

Six Guardians stole bases off Kyle McCann, a 26-year-old catcher making his major league debut.

Cleveland’s Stephen Vogt tied Al Lopez in 1951 as the only manager to start their Cleveland careers 3-0. Oakland dropped to 0-3 for the second time in 28 years. The Guardians scored six or more runs in the first three games of the season for the fourth time in franchise history. They have outscored the A’s 26-7, a plus-19 run difference that is the best in team history, topping plus-15 in 1922 and 1999.

Cleveland trailed 3-2 before scoring three runs in the fourth, two each in the fifth and sixth, and then one in the sixth to burst ahead 8-3.

“Our guys punched back every time,” Vogt said. “I thought it just showed the grit. The way that these guys have battled and the at-bats that they put together, it was great to see.”

Nick Sandlin (1-0) struck out two in a hitless fifth in relief of Tanner Bibee, who allowed three runs, and six hits in four innings. Bibee matched his career high with five walks.

Cleveland’s Cade Smith, a 24-year-old right-hander, pitched two hitless innings with five strikeouts and a walk in his major league debut.

Sunday

Two things stood out to me about Sunday’s game: 1) Guardians battled back after trailing 3-0 and 2) The Return of Carlos Carrasco. Despite the Guardians losing 4-3 to Oakland after a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning, I respect the effort and tenacity. They scored three runs in the eighth inning. Josh Naylor tied the game 3-3. Guardians did not quit. But this game went to Oakland and earned their first win of the season.

Carrasco spent three seasons with the New York Mets before returning to Cleveland. He didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday as he allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. Carrasco is past his prime but I still think he has something left to prove. I think he can still contribute but not as much as in 2016 or 2017.

Game Notes:

– Andres Gimenez is off to a great start to the season. Through four games, he’s hitting .400 with 4 RBIs. His offense wasn’t so great last year but you can tell that he worked on his hitting approach during the off-season.

– Guardians took advantage of Oakland’s defensive miscues in the series

– It’s very early, but Shane Bieber is looking better than the 2020 AL Cy Young winner. If he continues this momentum, he could win another one. His pitches are looking terrific so far.

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