Finale outburst lets Guardians wrap trip with 'heads up high'

June 19th, 2023

PHOENIX -- The Guardians' run production was dry the first two nights in the desert. On Sunday, they finally found their oasis.

After leaving a combined 15 runners stranded in the first two games of the series against Arizona, Cleveland’s offense erupted in the 12-3 finale win at Chase Field in front of a Father’s Day crowd of 42,031. The Guardians went 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position, avoided being swept and were set for a happy flight back to Cleveland, with an off-day on Monday waiting for them.

“I think we had a really good approach today,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “If you don't stay middle, you're going to make some easy outs, rollovers, and we stayed through the middle of the field really well."

Even one good day can change a hitter’s trajectory at the plate.

did not have a warm welcome in Phoenix. His 14-game hitting streak, an MLB best at the time, ended on Friday. After not recording a hit in the first two games of the series, he responded by going 4-for-5 with three RBIs on Sunday.

isn’t someone who sees the field a lot, but he’s ready for any opportunity. He tallied his fourth multihit game of the season, drove in a run and scored a run. One of the leaders in the clubhouse might have played a role in his success.

“I had a conversation with [José Ramírez], too,” Freeman said. “He’s been a huge part of this for me. He's like, ‘Hey, stay ready, [you] never know what's going to happen,’ and just training like I’m in the lineup every day.”

and , the Nos. 1 and 2 hitters, were a combined 9-for-18 in the first two games. On Saturday, they became the first pair of Cleveland teammates to each tally at least four hits without recording an RBI in the same game since April 11, 1961. In the series finale, the duo knocked in four runs.

A trip to the desert may have been what Kwan needed to wake up his bat. The 25-year-old outfielder went 1-for-10 in the previous series in sunny San Diego, but he finished 6-for-15 in sizzling Phoenix.

“I think momentum is really important. A bunch of guys got a bunch of hits, our pitchers did what they needed to,” Kwan said. “I think going into the off-day with heads up high is really important.”

avenged a rough outing last Tuesday by holding the D-backs to three runs and striking out six in five innings on Sunday. Besides the clunker in San Diego -- when he allowed six runs in four-plus frames -- Bibee has had a strong June, surrendering three or fewer runs in his other three outings.

Bibee had a clean first inning, which included a 15-minute delay due to a lighting issue at Chase Field, but he had traffic on the bases the rest of the way. After allowing two singles to open the fifth inning, he ran into trouble when Christian Walker, who had a solo homer in the second, roped a two-run double. The Guardians’ nine-run lead at the time allowed Bibee to finish the inning, as he struck out Gabriel Moreno with runners on the corners.

Bibee said getting to finish the fifth was “big time” but that he’s still looking to improve upon his release point.

“I think the end result is going to be better than what I have done this entire year,” Bibee said. “I think it's just a work in progress. Hopefully, it gets there. I think it's going to be better.”

Catching Bibee on Sunday was Bo Naylor, playing his first game after being recalled on Saturday. The Guardians’ No. 3 prospect went 0-for-4, made his first Major League start behind the plate and, unlike his previous trips to the Majors, will have the chance to continue growing there.

“It's kind of the first time he's caught like a game where he's not just up here for a day,” Francona said. “I think there's some things that he and [first base coach] Sandy [Alomar Jr.] could work on, blocking balls, which I think is to be expected. But the more he gets comfortable, then we'll be able to start maybe picking and choosing where to work, because you want to let a kid get comfortable first.”