Josh Bell has not exactly had the most spectacular start to his time in a Cleveland Guardians uniform, but he did manage to provide some breathing room in Friday's 3-0 win against the Royals. It was a quick game from start to finish as the game clocked in at 1 hour and 51 minutes, Progressive Field's shortest game in the history of the ballpark.
Cleveland held a slim 1-0 lead in the 4th inning and Bell came to the plate after Josh Naylor got the inning started with a single. Bell needed just one pitch to do his damage as he promptly hit the ball over the wall in left field extending the Guardians lead to 3. This was just the ninth home run of the season for Bell. These moments have been rare for Bell, but he made sure to come through at just the right time to extend Cleveland's lead.
At this point it really seems like Bell is what he is. Bell's slash line on the season sits at .223/.310/373, not exactly what the Guardians signed up for when agreeing to terms with the veteran switch-hitter this past offseason. Dating back to the last time Bell's batting average was below .100, the second game of April 22nd's doubleheader againast Miami, he is slashing .233/.314/.386 with nine doubles and eight home runs over 242 plate appearances. There may be some fluctuation along the way, but this seems to be where he is going to sit for the remainder of the 2023 season.
This was another big win for the Guardians as they continue to make their climb up the standings in the American League Central. Cleveland got some help as the Baltimore Orioles were able to take down the Minnesota Twins resulting in their lead shrinking to just half a game.
With two more games against Kansas City for Cleveland and Minnesota having two more against Baltimore, there is a very real chance that the Guardians overtake the Twins for the division lead by the end of the weekend.