If you like pitching, the Cleveland Guardians’ Game 2 wild-card series win to eliminate the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday was for you. As long as you had some time. The 15-inning marathon was scoreless until the very last moment, when rookie Oscar Gonzalez belted a walk-off homer into the left-field seats.
That followed a Game 1 win for Cleveland that wasn’t exactly a fireworks show itself.
In all likelihood, this weekend’s starting contest will go down in history as one of the postseason’s most memorable displays of run prevention. Here are 15 facts about the game that didn’t seem to want anyone to reach home or go home.
1. In a victorious series sweep, the Guardians' lineup went 13-for-76, a .171 batting average. That was made possible because their pitching staff held the Rays to a .115 batting average and struck them out 29 times.
2. Saturday's contest was the first major-league game (postseason or not) to make it to the 15th inning scoreless since 2011.
This is the first MLB game (regular or postseason) to make it through the 14th inning scoreless since the Red Sox beat the Rays, 1-0, in 16 innings on July 17, 2011.
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) October 8, 2022
3. The Guardians — considered long shots to win the AL Central in the spring — were the youngest team in the majors in 2022.
4. Perhaps to drive home that point, walk-off hero Gonzalez uses the “SpongeBob SquarePants” theme song as his walk-up music.
5. When a batter goes 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, it’s known as a golden sombrero. When a batter somehow goes 0-for-5 with five strikeouts, that’s a platinum sombrero. As you might expect it’s rare. Well, this game now accounts for two of the five platinum sombreros in postseason history — Cleveland’s Andrés Giménez and Tampa Bay’s Jose Siri each did it. (A tip of the sombrero to Timothy Burke.)
6. Of course, it wasn’t all batter incompetence. Getting in a bullpen fight with the Guardians has been a very bad idea for most of the season. Cleveland posted baseball’s best bullpen ERA (2.32) in the second half.
7. Sam Hentges, who went three scoreless frames to get the win, was tied for MLB’s best reliever ERA over that span with a 0.30 mark in 29 2/3 innings.
8. The last pitcher to finish a postseason game with at least three innings of relief work … also beat the Rays. Just last year, Boston’s Nick Pivetta fired four scoreless innings to beat Tampa in Game 3 in the ALDS.
9. The Guardians had a total of eight pitchers post goose eggs in Game 2. Only one team in MLB history has had more pitchers post scoreless outings in a single postseason game — the 2020 Padres in a bullpen game shutout of the Cardinals.
10. Pour one out for Rays pitcher Corey Kluber, who gave up the walk-off homer in the city where he made his name and won two Cy Young awards. This was his first postseason game not playing for Cleveland.
11. Rays leadoff man Yandy Diaz, whose .401 on-base percentage ranked fifth in MLB this season, went two straight games without reaching for the first time since June 24-25.
12. The series as a whole featured no hits with runners in scoring position. Collectively, the two clubs went 0-for-11 combined,
13. Gonzalez’s walk-off homer was the 13th ever to end a postseason series. Only the Astros’ Chris Burke launched his deeper into a game, ending an 18-inning classic to beat the Braves in the 2005 NLDS.
that's the 13th walk-off HR to clinch a postseason series
first in Cleveland postseason history
2nd-latest by innings, behind only 2005 NLDS G4 Chris Burke, b18 https://t.co/RP1TQRQDio
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 8, 2022
14. The controversial man-on-second rule — often called the Manfred Man, after commissioner Rob Manfred — that has been used to hasten the end of extra-inning games throughout the regular season since 2020 is not employed during the postseason.
15. Manfred was in attendance at Saturday’s Game 2.