Spring was most certainly not in the air in Kansas City on Thursday, April 7 when ace Shane Beiber took the hill for the first time in a GUARDIANS uniform. With snowflakes falling and a wintery, blustery wind hitting Kauffman Stadium, the conditions set the stage for a battle of the pitchers. While the Guards struck first on a Jose Ramirez double that plated Myles Straw in the fourth inning, that would be the only run the team scored on Opening Day, eventually falling to the Royals 3-1.
Around 48 hours later, Zach Plesac and Brad Keller engaged in combat through nearly six innings. The Guards No. 2 went 5 ⅔, giving up three hits. Keller executed six innings while only surrendering two hits. Neither team put up a run through the first 2/3 of the ballgame.
As a matter of fact, both teams stood at a 0-0 stalemate heading into extra innings. With Franmill Reyes striking out to end the Guardians portion of the ninth, he was due to start the 10th at second base, but Owen Miller ran for him. After Amed Rosario grounded to short, utility man Ernie Clement reached on an infield single, sending Miller to the hot corner. Now, the team had runners on the corners with only one out, a prime opportunity to bring home the winning run.
Instead, Oscar Mercado hit a ground ball to third base. Bobby Witt Jr, the Royals highly rated prospect who drove home the game-winning run in Game 1 of the series, tossed Miller out at the plate after a dynamite save by Catcher Salavador Perez (Witt Jr. made a terrible throw in the dirt). Yu Chang would strike out with two down, sending the Guardians to the bottom of the frame with no runs. Emmanuel Clase, fresh off his contract extension, gave up two singles to Royals hitting immediately, and Kansas City walked off with a 1-0 Game 2 victory.
That’s right. Through the first 19 innings of the 2022 campaign, the Guardians scored one run.
Offense was always a concern for the team going into 2022. As I wrote two weeks ago, the Guardians starting pitching will not be able to carry them through the entire season. The offense is going to have to score runs. A baseball team can’t win every day by a 2-1 or 3-2 margin. It’s just impossible to put that much pressure on your pitching staff.
The Guards took their one run in 19 innings frustration out on their AL Central rivals Sunday, scoring 17 runs on 22 hits in a 17-3 thrashing. Then, they put up another 10 runs Monday in a 10-7 victory, earning them a four game split with Kansas City to begin the season. With only one run scored between the first two games and 27 runs put up on the board in the next two contests, how do they find the balance between no offense at all and an offensive explosion?
As Guardians of the CLE co-host Mel Kirby wrote last week, the lineup is filled with young kids. Guys like Miller, Andres Gimenez, Steven Kwan and eventually Gabriel Arias are (hopefully) going to be the guys scoring runs, getting on base and leading this version of the Cleveland baseball team into the future, the same way the likes of Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley did years ago. Besides the now-New York Met shortstop, the other guys on that list didn’t make an immediate impact when they were first called up to the club, and the same will likely be true for the new generation of Guardian bats. Patience is going to be the key.
Currently, the Guardians have the youngest team in MLB by average at only 26 years old. Young teams go through growing pains. They’re going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Some streaks will last for days, while others may last for weeks at a time.
Out of the four games played this season, two games were bad for the Guardians offensively. There’s still 158 games to go.
By the time the kids are let out for the summer, if the offense still isn’t consistently producing, that’s a different story. For now though, there’s no need to panic over the lack of offense from the Guards.