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Guardians 4, Rockies 2: Serven and Joe’s combined eight hits not enough

Brian Serven, Connor Joe combine for as many hits as the entire Cleveland offense

The Rockies outhit the Guardians 11-7 today. Seven of Colorado’s hits came off Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie through the first six innings.

Brian Serven and Connor Joe each had four hits. Their combined eight was as many as the entire Cleveland offense.

In a game that featured no home runs, four doubles and one triple, it was a decisive two unearned runs that fueled Cleveland’s sweep over the Rockies. The Rockies showed short-lived fight in the seventh and ninth — thanks to Joe and Serven — and any time a leverage index bar looks like a skyscraper, it’s pretty darn exciting:

Two baserunners in the ninth inning with zero outs would amount to a total of zero runs, however and Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase got big against the top of the Rockies’ order.

McKenzie controls seven base hits

The Rockies jumped on McKenzie early. Connor Joe led off the bottom of the first with a single, followed by a Charlie Blackmon double.

Situation: Second and third. Nobody out.

Two strikeouts and a groundout would ensue. Zero runs scored.

Colorado was unable to capitalize on a pair of two-out singles in the second, a leadoff single in the third, and the only blemish on his final line came off a leadoff triple by Serven to begin the fifth. McKenzie’s day was done after six frames, and despite a fair amount of hits allowed, and an ability to even string a few together, it took a leadoff three-bagger to cash in a single run.

McKenzie’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K.

Kuhl gets burned in second inning, battles through five

After allowing one hit in a calm first inning, Chad Kuhl kicked off his second frame with a strikeout. Serious damage would ensue on the scoreboard, however, and four hits by the Guardians would prove to be the game’s decisive offense.

In succession:

  • Andrés Giménez singled on the ground to center field.
  • Owen Miller pieced up a ground-rule double. (Giménez remaining at third was a nice break, but the fate was short-lived.)
  • Richie Palacios did his job, driving in Giménez on a second-base groundout.
  • Austin Hedges lined one into left field, reaching on a single and scoring Miller.

From there, it got a little sloppy:

  • Leadoff hitter Steven Kwan reached on an error by Rockies left fielder Yonathan Daza. This placed runners on the corners.
  • Amed Rosario tallied the final hit of the inning, a ground-ball single to left, scoring Hedges.

Kuhl would finally escape with an infield popout by José Ramirez, but not before three runs, four hits, a costly error and a whole lot of pitches were recorded.

Kuhl would add three strikeouts to his line in the fifth inning — a three-up, three-down frame — and his seven K’s on the day would come just one short of matching his season best.

The momentum subsided with a leadoff walk and single to begin the sixth, however. Kuhl’s day was done before recording an out in the seventh.

Kuhl’s final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 7 K.

Serven has a day, Joe has a day

A 4-for-4 afternoon by the Colorado backstop Serven helped account for both of the Rockies’ runs on the day: not a bad showing from the ninth hitter in the order. Serven’s leadoff triple in the fifth inning was the only run that Cleveland starter McKenzie would allow. He would score in the ensuing at-bat on a Joe single, and the Rockies were on the board with no outs in the fifth.

Serven and Joe recorded seven singles and a triple, anchoring both the top and bottom of the order with ample baserunners. The seventh inning was one such frame — each posted a single to open it — and it came off a reliever that Rockies fans know all too well:

Shaw’s return to the scene

The epilogue of the “Super Bullpen” brought Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw back to Coors Field. Serven and Joe opened his afternoon with two singles and Shaw’s day would be complete after one more batter, a Charlie Blackmon single.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona wasted no time going to the bullpen after Shaw faced his minimum three.

Eli Morgan came on and allowed a sacrifice fly, the run credited to Shaw, but the threat would close on a comebacker to Morgan.

Ninth inning, usual suspects

Serven and Joe led off the final frame with leadoff singles — yet again.

A two-run deficit was far less daunting with the tying run on first: Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase would do big-time closer things, however, ending the threat on a Charlie Blackmon flyout and a double play off the bat of Brendan Rodgers.

Cleveland’s bullpen was shaky — but a combined 0-for-18 by the Rockies’ three-through-seven hitters would prove costly.

Up Next

Colorado will see a familiar opponent in their upcoming three-game homestand, just days removed from seeing them in San Diego. It will be an exact copy of the pitching matchup from last Saturday night: the Padres’ Mackenzie Gore and the Rockies’ Kyle Freeland.

Gore did not fare well in his standard environment. His 2 13 innings were met with six earned runs off the bat of Rockies hitters, while Freeland allowed just three hits in six total frames (2 ER). Thanks to some great showings today by relievers Lucas Gilbreath, Robert Stephenson and Jake Bird (combined 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R), the Rockies will feature a rested team of top available relievers — a big deal in the absence of Tyler Kinley.

Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm. MDT.