The Cleveland Guardians and Los Angeles Angels will play the third game of their four-game series Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif., as the Guardians try to rediscover their offense.
Cleveland’s bats were hot early, the club scoring 44 runs during a four-game stretch from April 10-13, making it the top-scoring team in the majors. And it was that hot stretch that somewhat obscured the slow start of cleanup hitter Franmil Reyes.
Now that the Guardians’ offense has come back to earth, Reyes’ struggles are more evident. Including Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Angels, the Guardians have scored just eight runs in their past five games, all losses.
That has put the spotlight on Reyes, who hit 30 homers last year and a combined 37 in 2019 while playing for San Diego and Cleveland.
Reyes has two home runs this season, coming in back-to-back games last Thursday (against the White Sox) and Friday (against the Yankees). His home run in Yankee Stadium was an opposite-field homer, leading Cleveland manager Terry Francona to believe Reyes found his stroke.
“That’s a good sign,” Francona said at the time. “When he’s hitting the ball to the right side, and you’re going to get rewarded here for that. That should help loosen him up and make him feel better about himself, because when he’s dangerous, we’re different.”
But it turned out it wasn’t the turnaround Reyes was looking for. Since that home run in the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium last Friday, Reyes is 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts, including his 0-for-4, four-strikeout performance Tuesday against Los Angeles.
“I’m trying to remember who I am when I’m a good hitter, what part of the field I use more,” Reyes said. “I’m trying to let the ball beat me (get deeper in the strike zone) a little more. I think that’s the key.”
Right-hander Zach Plesac (1-1, 1.53 ERA) will make his fourth start of the year for Cleveland, coming off his best start of the season last Thursday. Plesac gave up two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings in a victory over the White Sox.
He is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in two starts against the Angels in his career.
Right-hander Shohei Ohtani (1-2, 4.40 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season for Los Angeles, also coming off his best start of the season. Last Wednesday against Houston, Ohtani threw six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out 12 and walking one. Ohtani was perfect until Astros catcher Jason Castro singled with one out in the sixth.
If Ohtani is to feed off his last start, it’s likely he’ll rely on his slider, which he threw 35 times in his 81 pitches.
He’s had one career start against Cleveland, getting a no-decision after allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Offensively, Ohtani is yet to get hot. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored and one strikeout on Tuesday and is now hitting .213 with a .645 OPS, considerably below his career OPS of .878.
“It’s just confidence right now,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s so good, but it’s all about confidence. He’s going to get hot, like scalding hot, soon.”
–Field Level Media