CLEVELAND -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch headed out to the mound with two outs in the ninth inning on Tuesday night. Even with Brandon Guyer due up for the Indians, Hinch was not considering removing left-hander Dallas Keuchel from the game. The manager just wanted to quickly go over the
CLEVELAND -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch headed out to the mound with two outs in the ninth inning on Tuesday night. Even with Brandon Guyer due up for the Indians, Hinch was not considering removing left-hander Dallas Keuchel from the game. The manager just wanted to quickly go over the situation.
Keuchel was rolling -- as has been the case all month -- but Guyer's specialty is serving as a weapon against lefty pitching, and he represented the tying run. In a 4-2 loss for Cleveland, Keuchel put the finishing touch on a complete game by inducing a game-ending groundout off Guyer's bat, continuing the outfielder's April-long struggles.
"It's just a weird game," Guyer said. "You're going to be hot and cold. I'm cold right now. I know that will change. I'll keep putting the work in. Brighter days are ahead."
Indians manager Terry Francona has echoed that belief. A few hours before Tuesday's game, Francona discussed Guyer's early offensive issues and pointed to a mechanical flaw in the outfielder's swing. As a result, Guyer has had a difficult time catching up to fastballs he typically hits with authority.
Francona hoped Guyer turned a corner on Friday, when he launched a home run in Chicago against lefty Jose Quintana. Guyer has now gone 0-for-8 since that drive. On Tuesday, Keuchel struck Guyer out once and induced three groundouts, including an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners in the second.
"He will get himself going," Francona said. "He's been such a force, and I know he's pressing a bit, but he'll get going. He's too hard a worker, and he's too good a player. He hasn't had the best couple weeks -- aside from the home run the other day -- but he'll be there. If you start running away from guys early, you won't get the rewards later."
Last year, Guyer was one of baseball's best hitters against left-handed pitching. He hit at a .336 clip and posted a 1.021 OPS against lefties in 122 at-bats. Francona has so much confidence in Guyer that the outfielder has even batted third in four games, when Michael Brantley has had a day off.
With Tuesday's showing, Guyer is now batting .148 (4-for-27) against left-handers this season.
In his career against Keuchel, Guyer had gone 6-for-10 and had reached base eight times in 12 plate appearances. It was a favorable matchup for the Indians going into the night, and it remained so in the ninth, when Jose Ramirez was on first and Guyer stepped to the plate with two outs.
"I think we had a good game plan going on," Keuchel said. "I made some pretty bad pitches to him over 10 at-bats that I've had against him. Looking back at some of the film, [there were] some hitters' counts. I was able to get ahead of him. He was probably the main guy I was worried about."
Guyer worked the count full and shot a pitch up the middle, but Houston shortstop Carlos Correa corralled it with a diving stop and then fired to first for the game's final out.
"Things like this happen," Guyer said. "It's probably the first time I've slumped at the beginning of the year, so that stinks. But it is what it is. We'll get through it, and we'll be good."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.