Guardians Facing Elimination After 6-2 Loss And Sweep To Royals

Cleveland Guardians v Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 20: Nelson Velazquez #17 of the Kansas City Royals is congratulated by Maikel Garcia #11 and Bobby Witt Jr. #7 after hitting a three-run home run during the 1st inning of the game against the Cleveland Guardians at Kauffman Stadium on September 20, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Three days after sweeping the playoff-hunting Texas Rangers, the Cleveland Guardians could not muster a victory over the last-place Kansas City Royals. Facing dwindling playoff chances with passing each day, the Cleveland Guardians fell behind by three in the first inning with a pair of errors against the Royals' first two hitters. Maikel Garcia hit a leadoff single to left field and reached second base as Will Brennan bobbled the ball. Then Bobby Witt Jr. got on base on a groundball and an errant throw Jose Tena. MJ Melendez popped out, but the cleanup hitter Nelson Velazquez took Lucas Giolito deep on a 3-0 count, putting the Royals up 3-0.

The Guardians rallied in the fourth starting with Josh Naylor's 29th double of the year, back-to-back one-out singles from Ramon Laureano and Andres Gimenez allowed Naylor to score. Myles Straw's sacrifice fly got Laureano in from third base to bring the Guardians within a run and end Zack Greinke's outing of 3 2/3 innings. However, The Royals struck back in the bottom when Drew Waters doubled, reached third on a wild pitch, and scored on Bobby Witt Jr.'s single, pushing the lead to 4-2 ahead of a pair of one-run innings.

MJ Melendez drew a leadoff walk in the seventh and scored on Michael Massey's ground out. Then in the eighth Bobby Witt Jr. lined a double into left field and scored on a fielding error that extended the Royals' lead to 6-2, and wire-to-wire win. Reliver Angel Zerpa picks up his third win while starter Lucas Giolito drops to 1-3 with the Guardians after allowing four runs through 5 1/3 innings.

With the Minnesota Twins' victory earlier today the Guardians (72-81) remain nine games back in the Central Division. Already out of wild card contention, the Guardians' lone path to the postseason is through the division, but with 11 games remaining and an elimination number of one, the Guardians would be out of the hunt with either one more loss, or one more Twins victory. One more loss would also mean Manager Terry Francona's second losing record in his 11-year tenure.

While the Twins are off tomorrow the Guardians will host the Baltimore Orioles (95-56) for the first of a four-game series tomorrow at 7:15 PM. The Guardians won two of three games in their first meeting this season in Baltimore. The Orioles are competing for homefield advantage in the American League, and are ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays (93-59) by 2.5 games with a head-to-head tiebreaker.

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