Guardians rally for 2-1 win over Rangers despite Bibee’s exit

Bibee (hip soreness) leaves in 6th; Tyler Freeman, Steven Kwan 8th inning hits will Cleveland to victory
Sep 16, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians relief pitcher Emmanuel Clase (48) celebrates after the Guardians beat the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Photo credit © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Back-to-back RBI hits from Tyler Freeman and Steven Kwan allowed the Cleveland Guardians to snatch a 2-1 Saturday night win from the visiting Texas Rangers.

With Cleveland down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Freeman came to the plate following a 1-out double by Ramon Laureano and a walk by Bo Naylor. With two out and facing a 2-2 count against Will Smith (2-6), Freeman promptly lofted a seeing-eye single to left field that just outstretched the hands of Rangers outfielder Evan Carter, allowing Laureano to score from second base.

The next batter, Kwan, roped a line drive off Smith to left-center, scoring Naylor to put the Guardians ahead for good and giving Cleveland its second hit with runners in scoring position in just ten at-bats.

“I feel like we’ve had a lot of balls we’ve been hitting hard at people,” Kwan commented postgame. “Just kind of seeing them get through today is really nice, and we’re definitely rewarding our pitchers. [They] pitched their butts off, and to see them get rewarded…it’s nice.”

Enyel De Los Santos and Sam Hentges settled the 6th and 7th innings for Cleveland following Bibee’s departure, while Reynaldo Lopez (3-7) earned a relief win with a shutout 8th inning performance.

Until their rally strike in the 8th, the Guardians were mostly stymied by Texas pitching, including Dane Dunning’s five-inning shutout performance. The Rangers’ right-hander scattered six hits and three walks while totaling five strikeouts.

Saturday’s silver lining was the exit of Guardians starter Tanner Bibee, who left the game in the 6th inning with soreness in his right hip - which, according to Guardians manager Terry Francona, occurred during a fielding play by Bibee in the fourth inning.

“I think they’re calling it a hip impingement,” Francona answered after the game. “We’ll get him scanned tomorrow. Just to make sure he’s okay.”

Sep 16, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee (61) walks off the field with manager Terry Francona, left, and head athletic trainer James Quinlan, right, during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Bibee left the game with an injury. Photo credit © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Bibee struck out four batters while yielding five hits and one earned run in his 5.1-inning outing. Texas’s lone run came in the fifth, on a Marcus Semien RBI double.

Emmanuel Clase earned his league-leading 41st save of the season in the top of the 9th inning. The two-time All-Star is the first closer to post consecutive 40+ save seasons at age 25 or younger since former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal in 2014-15.

The loss for Texas (82-66) was their 10th of the season when leading after the 7th inning.

The Guardians (71-78) sit seven games back of the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central lead.

Cleveland’s series finale with Texas comes Sunday at 1:40 p.m. Gavin Williams (2-5, 3.43 ERA) is expected to start for the Guardians.

Featured Image Photo Credit: © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports