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First-place Guardians feeling good vibrations in happy clubhouse | Jeff Schudel

Apr. 8—The Guardians beat the White Sox, 4-0, on April 8 in their home opener at Progressive Field by using the formula that has worked so well for them early in the season — ball-smothering defense, aggressive baserunning, a dominant outing by their starting pitcher ...

And, of course, a two-run home run by Jose Ramirez.

"The vibe is incredible," second baseman Andres Gimenez said after the game. "I was in there (the clubhouse) for five seconds and I didn't want to come here (to the interview room), but I had to. It's just incredible."

April 8 will be remembered as the day a total eclipse was visible in Northeast Ohio much longer than the details of how the Guardians beat the White Sox on the same day will be recalled.

Manager Stephen Vogt like what he saw from the eclipse and from his baseball team Monday. @CleGuardians 4, White Sox 0 pic.twitter.com/Q6TEJcqgKT

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) April 9, 2024

Tyler Freeman, who kept busy tracking down fly ball after fly, sounded more like a 10-year veteran than a player in his first year starting in center field.

"Move on to the next one," he said as he stood in front of his dressing stall. "That's kind of what our motto is. Worry about the game ahead and then worry about the next day when it comes. We got the win today. Now we're looking forward to tomorrow."

Triston McKenzie started and pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings to post his first win since Sept. 28, 2022. He walked four batters and gave up three hits, but he kept the White Sox from crossing the plate. He was much sharper than he was in his first start of 2024 when he was boxed around for five runs in 3 1/3 innings April 1 in a 5-4 loss in Seattle. The first-place Guardians have won five straight since then to improve to 8-2.

The 2023 season was a lost one for McKenzie. The slender right-hander missed more than two months to start the season with a shoulder injury and after two starts in June went back on the shelf with an elbow injury. He ended up making four starts, pitched only 16 innings, and finished 0-3 with a gaudy 5.06 ERA.

The Guardians are going to need McKenzie to be his best if they are to have any chance to stay in the American League Central race now that ace Shane Bieber needs Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. They play the sad-sack White Sox (1-9) again on April 9 and 10 then after an off day host the Yankees for three games before playing the Red Sox four games in Boston. Those seven games will give a true indication of where the Guards stand early in 2024.

The Guardians scored one run in the second inning, one in the third and a pair in the fourth on Ramirez's 100th career home run at Progressive Field. They hit into a double play in each inning they scored, but they took advantage of every blunder the White Sox made.

"We want to continue to put the pressure on defenses and it just seems like in these games we find a way to score runs," Manager Stephen Vogt said. "That's the mark of a good offense. I say it over and over, and I'm going to stick to it: We're not going to get the three-run homer, four-run homer every night. We have to find ways to make things happen. And these guys do it with their speed and their aggressiveness every night."

The good vibe was still flowing by the time Gimenez got back to the clubhouse.