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CLEVELAND (AP/WJW) — It only took 15 innings, but the Cleveland Guardians have won.
Saturday was Game 2 of the Wild Card series in Cleveland and while it was a pitcher’s duel for most of the game, Oscar Gonzalez came through with a home run in the bottom of the 15th inning.
Pitcher Triston McKenzie, who made his first postseason start with a chance to send the Guardians to New York for the divisional round, was able to keep the Tampa Bay Rays at zero after six trips to the mound.
For the Rays, pitcher Tyler Glasnow was on a pitch count in his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery. It’s his first postseason start since Game 5 of the 2020 World Series. And while he was in the game, the Guardians were not able to score against him at all.
In the sixth inning, against pitcher Jason Adams, the Guardians made things more interesting, filling up the bases with Jose Ramirez up to bat. He struck out and then it was all up to Josh Naylor. A quick double play ball changed that up and we moved into the seventh inning.
James Karinchak came in for the Guardians at the top of the seventh and that was a quick half inning. Then the Guardians brought in Trevor Stephan for the eighth inning. Meanwhile, the Rays brought in pitcher Drew Rasmussen for the bottom of the eight inning.
Bringing in the closer was what you always knew they would do, and the Cleveland Guardians once more brought in Emmanuel Clase in the ninth inning. But although the Guardians were able to keep the Rays from scoring, the same went for the other team as well, bringing the teams into extra innings.
In the 10th, the Guardians brought in Nick Sandlin to pitch. This being the playoffs, there was no player automatically placed on second base. However, with two outs and a man on third, the Guardians opted to bring in pitcher Eli Morgan. No one was able to score and we’ve gone to the 11th.
After keeping the Rays at bay, Myles Straw was able to get onto first base in the bottom of the 11th. But that didn’t matter and no runs were brought in.
In the 12th, the Guardians opted to bring in Enyel De Los Santos to pitch. With two outs, the Rays managed to get a man on first and third base. But, miraculously, they get out of the jam. With Josh Naylor to the plate, the Rays opt to bring in Brooks Raley to pitch.
Sam Hentges headed to the mound for the Guards in the 13th and he made quick work of retiring the side. Now it’s Cleveland’s turn, ex-Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber came in for a bit of relief work for the Rays.
The fans got to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for the second time this game in the 14th inning. But the revelry did not get the Guardians bats to do much and the teams rolled into the 15th with the Guardians finally scoring.
Friday, the Guardians were certain of two things: José Ramírez would deliver, and Amed Rosario touched second base.
Cleveland’s kids were right.
Ramírez connected for a two-run homer, Shane Bieber dominated Tampa Bay for 7 2/3 innings and the young Guardians played with poise in their postseason debut, beating the Rays 2-1 in the wild-card opener on Friday.
Ramírez’s shot off Tampa’s Shane McClanahan in the sixth inning — the Rays initially appealed whether Rosario stepped on second — helped Cleveland end an eight-game postseason losing streak and left baseball’s youngest team one win from advancing in its first season as the Guardians.
Though short on experience, the Guardians seem to have everything else.
“At this point we’re dealing with what we got in that clubhouse,” Bieber said, brushing off the team’s youth. “And that’s a winning ballclub.”