The best Guardians relievers ready for the ALDS 4 game

CLEVELAND — The Guardians bullpen has finally given up a playoff run.

Cleveland’s bullpen pitched with a deficit throughout use in Game 3 of its American League Division Series against the Yankees on Saturday at Progressive Field.

The Guardians’ enclosure is bigger than ever.

While late-inning rallies and clutch singles become commonplace with this team, the Guardians did something much harder to fathom in their 6-5 win, picking up a win without using any of their key relievers. at the end of the round. Neither the All-Star closest to Emmanuel Clase nor preparers James Karinchak or Trevor Stephan pitched, largely because there was never a lead to protect or a tie to preserve.

“We try to keep the game where [the Yankees] have to use their paddock and we are not going to our [big] guys,” manager Terry Francona said. “We will go to them when we have the lead.”

The Guardians stayed close enough to rally with four innings of relief from Sam Hentges, Enyel De Los Santos and Eli Morgan in support of starter Triston McKenzie. The fact that they gave up anything was a big deal for a relief corps that pitched 18 2/3 scoreless innings this postseason until Harrison Bader sent a Hentges fastball into the field bleachers. left in the seventh inning. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the second-longest scoreless streak from a bullpen to start a playoff in history, after just the 19 1/3 scoreless relief innings hosted by the 1983 Orioles. .

Not since the Dodgers’ 2017 scoreless 28-inning streak had a bullpen put on such a run at any point in the playoffs.

Until the ninth, that extra Yankees run loomed large, turning what would have been a one-run game into a two-run New York lead. But indeed, Hentges, De Los Santos and Morgan served their purpose, with Bader’s home run being the only hit allowed.

“They gave us a chance,” Francona continued. “Sam left a pitch that Bader hit, but other than that they kept him where he was and gave us a chance and we didn’t have to go to the other guys.”

After last weekend’s 15-round win over the Rays to qualify for the ALDS, perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise. All three helped keep this game scoreless, including three scoreless innings and six strikeouts by Hentges to give Oscar Gonzalez a chance to win it. De Los Santos retired the middle of the Rays’ lineup in order in the 12th inning of that game.

With that in mind, Francona turned to De Los Santos when the top of the Yankees roster hit two outs in the seventh. He struck out Gleyber Torres, then did the same to Aaron Judge on a steal past the left field wall en route to a no-hitter eighth. De Los Santos induced three swings and misses nine swings on just 19 throws.

Now, instead of needing an all-out approach to salvage their season, the Guardians will have a chance to win the series on Sunday night at home in Game 4 with Clase, Karinchak and Stephan all available to support Cal Quantrill. And in Division Series with the current 2-2-1 home road schedule, teams going into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead have won 21 of 26 such series before this season, including 15 wins. decisive series in Game 4. .

The Yankees, meanwhile, need to win the next two games with their bullpen tested, though a deep outing from Gerrit Cole could help meet the challenge. Jonathan Loáisiga pitched each of the last two nights; he hasn’t pitched three days in a row all season, although he has pitched three outs in four days on a few occasions. Clarke Schmidt and Wandy Peralta also kicked off the final two nights. Clay Holmes didn’t pitch on Saturday, but while he should be available on Sunday, his ability to pitch on back-to-back days is in question.

As if the Guardians bullpen wasn’t already an advantage, it looms more now than it did in the series, even on a night when Clase never got up to warm up.

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