Something's gotta give.
The Cleveland Guardians can't seem to get anything going right now at the plate. Is it bad luck? Are they just running into high quality teams in the Giants, Yankees and Angels? It's hard to put your finger on it, but the team's losing streak has now reached seven games with today's series-ending, sweep-inducing 4-1 loss to the Angels.
It's the first time time since 1982 that Cleveland has lost all four contests in a four-game set out in Anaheim.
The only Guardians run came home on a solo home run from Austin Hedges in the fifth inning.
The Angels plated three runs in the third after they loaded the bases with nobody out. Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh each had singles to move everyone up 90 feet and Mike Trout brought home a run when he hit into a rare double play. Their only other run came home on a mishandled grounder to third baseman Ernie Clement.
The Guardians are averaging more than nine runs per game when they win and fewer than two runs per game when they lose this season.
It's not that the team isn't playing hard. In fact, I think some of their better innings during this losing streak have been the ninth innings of the games. They don't wave the white flag and it feels like they've been more victims of a tough schedule right now than anything else.
Yes, there are some obvious problems. Should we consider it progress that Franmil Reyes put the ball in play today twice? He flew out to center field a couple of times, which is better than his 11 strikeouts and double-play ground out in the previous 12 at bats.
All of the starting pitchers have been slightly less effective than normal and a few defensive mistakes have led to runs in critical moments. Again, it's not a lack of competitiveness. I think the pitching staff has had the right amount of "juice" when their backs have been against the wall. But the results haven't been good enough.
Cal Quantrill pitched pretty well today. He gave up three runs (only one earned) on four hits over six innings. The 3-run inning hardly felt like it was his fault.
But pitching and defense haven't been the reason why this team isn't winning games right now. They have to find a better rhythm offensively. I'm not sure where it starts, but if this team is going to win games consistently, they need to get more than just a couple home runs here and there from Jose Ramirez.
Steven Kwan was quite the spark plug at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately he didn't play the entire series against the Angles. Perhaps if he can get healthy (it sounds like he is pretty close to returning) from that tender hamstring, maybe his addition to the top of the order will jumpstart the offense again.
It's become pretty obvious that Josh Naylor and Owen Miller need to stay in the every day lineup, and that may spell doom for Bobby Bradley when the roster shrinks on Sunday. Straw, Ramirez and Kwan - along with Naylor and Miller - all should keep getting consistent at bats.
Beyond that - there are a lot more questions than answers right now. Let's hope this week-long slump ends tomorrow night.
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