Final 9: Mike Zunino’s 2-run homer carries Guardians past White Sox 3-0

CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – To say Mike Zunino had been struggling would be an understatement.

Same for his teammates too.

But the catcher came through with a two-run home run, Hunter Gaddis threw six shutout innings in a spot start and Emmanuel Clase picked up his 16th save of the season as the Guardians blanked the White Sox 3-0 Monday night at Progressive Field.

Here’s our Final 9 from a much-needed win to begin the homestand.

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1. A few hours after president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti gave his catching duo a vote of confidence, Zunino had himself a night. “It’s big,” Zunino said. “Yeah, the production has not been to where I wanted it, but I mean that's part of this game. I think it's one of those things where certain stretches get magnified, but you got to come in, keep putting the work in, making the adjustments you need to, and results usually come from that.” Zunino threw out a would-be base stealer in the top of the first inning. Then, mired in a 1-31 slump that included 21 strikeouts, hit a two-run homer to right with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to give the Guardians a 3-0 advantage. “I was so happy for him,” manager Terry Francona said. “You could hear our whole dugout just, he shows up every day and he’s been working like crazy and hasn’t had a lot to show for it and you know, certainly show up to try to win the game. But the other part of you too, you grow pretty fond of these guys and you want them to have some success and it made me feel good when I saw the way that dugout reacted.”

2. Gaddis was nearly flawless in the sport start after getting called up from Columbus. “I thought he pitched really well,” Francona said. “I thought the ball had a pretty good life through his zone.” Gaddis threw six scoreless innings where he allowed just two hits with a walk, hit batter and four strikeouts. It was sweet revenge after the White Sox tagged Gaddis last September for seven runs on eight hits, including five home runs, in four innings. “I would be lying if I didn't think of that,” Gaddis said. “So yeah, it definitely makes it a little better. How does Gaddis plan to celebrate his first big league win? “I don't know, hopefully a steak dinner, Gaddis said.

3. White Sox starter Jimmy Lambert departed after one inning that saw him throw 20 pitches and allow a hit with a walk.

4. Gabriel Arias, who walked, scored on a Jesse Scholtens wild pitch for the game’s first run in the bottom of the second to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead. Moments earlier Arias stole third, but Will Brennan was thrown out at second on the attempted double steal.

5. Sam Hentges, Nick Sandlin and Trevor Stephan combined for two innings of work in relief.

6. Emmanuel Clase picked up his league leading 16th save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning after having a couple of rough outings. “It looked like he was mad,” Francona said. “He was throwing his slider 93 that looked like, I don't get a very good look from where I sit, but when he threw a couple of them sliders, I looked at D [bench coach DeMarlo Hale] and I'm like, you can't hit that. That was good to see.” It was Clase’s first save since May 18.

7. Chicago did not have a baserunner reach third base Monday night. And only two reached second base – Andrew Benintendi in the fourth inning after singling and advancing when Yohan Moncada was hit by a pitch with two outs and then in the seventh Gavin Sheets, who walked, moved up on a single by Andrew Vaughn.

8. The Guardians improved to 8-21 when scoring three or fewer runs in a game this season as Cleveland notched their fourth shutout of the season. Cleveland is the fifth team in baseball this season to win multiple games while collecting four or fewer hits.

9. Francona met with his team in the visitors clubhouse at Citi Field after they got swept by the Mets Sunday night. “Just wanted to remind them like how we carry ourselves, how we play the game,” Francona said. “I told them, I said, there's no guarantee you we're going to win tomorrow, but we can guarantee how we pay attention to detail. And I just want them to know that we'll do this together. We're not pointing fingers. We're all going through it together. Shoot, man. No, I mean when we're not winning, I feel like it’s me. I feel like I’m letting them down, but I mean we’re together and I just wanted to make sure they understood that.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports