OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Cleveland Guardians are proving to be a resilient group so far and are learning how to pile up the close wins no matter what it looks like. Four of their five victories this season have come by two or fewer runs —three in extra innings.
And now the AL Central champs are headed home for the first time at last.
Andrés Giménez scored on pinch-hitter Will Brennan’s groundout for the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, Steven Kwan followed with an RBI single and the Guardians held off the Oakland Athletics 6-4 on Wednesday.
“I think we all felt like they’ll fight, they’ll compete, and they do,” manager Terry Francona said. “And we’re not perfect, and we probably won’t be. But as long as they keep fighting we got a chance.”
Two innings after the A’s scored four runs in the eighth to tie it on Jesús Aguilar’s two-out, three-run homer, the Guardians recovered to win in extra innings for their second consecutive series win to begin the season.
Giménez began the inning at second base and Myles Straw drew a walk against Zach Jackson (0-1). After Giménez advanced to third on a wild pitch, Brennan lined a 3-2 pitch to shortstop Nick Allen, who threw to first for the out as Giménez crossed home plate.
“That was a good at-bat,” Francona said. “He took some really good swings that whole at-bat, and then with two strikes puts it in play. Again, we’re asking a kid to pinch hit that probably never pinch hit in his life. But he’s up to the task and ready to do it and willing, and makes it fun.”
Eli Morgan (1-0), who was the fourth of five Cleveland pitchers, worked one scoreless inning of relief to win. Emmanuel Clase retired three batters for his second save.
Ryan Noda’s first career home run off Nick Sandlin started the A’s comeback in the eighth. Following back-to-back walks to Tony Kemp and Aledmys Diaz, Aguilar crushed a three-run homer off Tim Herrin that tied it at 4.
“We know we’re never out of games, especially with the lineup we have,” Noda said. “When you make the pitcher work extra, they’re going to leave mistakes and as long as we don’t miss them and do what we did today and battle back, the sky’s the limit.”
Aguilar’s home run came after he fouled off seven of eight pitches. The A’s nearly made it back-to-back shots off Herrin when Seth Brown’s drive to deep center was caught by a leaping Myles Straw at the fence.
Before the Cleveland bullpen melted down, the Guardians had received strong pitching from starter Hunter Gaddis. A late addition to Cleveland’s rotation after an injury to Triston McKenzie in his final spring start, Gaddis pitched one-hit ball over six innings and lowered his ERA from 9.82 to 3.72.
The right-hander, who gave up 15 runs over his first 7 1/3 innings this season, struck out four and walked two.
“We don’t stop. We can see it in everybody’s face,” Gaddis said after his fourth career start. “We’re not going to stop ’til the game’s over.”
TRAINER’S ROOM Guardians: RHP Nick Mikolajchak (sprained UCL) and RHP Daniel Espino (right shoulder) remain day-to-day.
UP NEXT Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (1-0, 0.00) takes the mound when Cleveland returns home to host a three-game series the Seattle beginning Friday. The Guardians took three of four from the Mariners to begin the season.
Athletics: LHP Ken Waldichuk (0-1, 9.53) makes his second start of the season Friday in Tampa Bay. Waldichuk allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Angels last Sunday.