Cleveland Guardians advance to ALDS after marathon 1-0 victory over Rays
The Guardians’ defense was spectacular this whole series. I mentioned in the Game 1 recap that their infield D was a difference-maker and could be a pivotal factor in this series. The entire team was involved in spectacular defense that supported Cleveland’s brilliant pitching throughout the game.
Guardians catcher Austin Hedges made an absolutely perfect throw to catch Manuel Margot stealing in the top of the seventh inning. Once again, we saw Cash take advantage of the extra challenge that teams are allotted in the postseason, and following a quick review the call was confirmed.
In the top of the tenth, after Sandlin left, Cleveland center fielder Myles Straw made a game-saving catch going far to his left and making a catch fully extended at a dead sprint in the right-center field gap. Straw had a disappointing start to this season offensively, not living up to expectations with the bat early in the season, but his value with the glove is undeniable.
In the top of the twelfth, José Ramírez made a difficult back-handed stop on a slowly hit bouncer from Margot. Ramírez then spun, threw off his back foot and made a one-hop throw to first that first baseman Josh Naylor scooped to end the inning. The Rays challenged the call on this play too, hoping to extend the inning and give them the lead, but the call on the field was upheld and the score remained tied.
Then in the top of the fourteenth, the Guardians turned a 4-3-6 double play when second baseman Andrés Giménez fielded a grounder and Rays runner Wander Franco had to stop to avoid being tagged out. Giménez threw to first to get the force out and Naylor then made a perfect throw to shortstop Amed Rosario, who tagged Franco for the second out.
Overall, the Guardians defense was brilliant behind their dominant pitching. Look for this to continue to be a pivotal and potentially deciding factor moving forward.