Missed chances kill Guardians’ momentum in one-run loss

3:48 AM UTC

MIAMI — Ask anyone who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s and they’ll tell you that the phrase “take chances, make mistakes and get messy,” was seminal in their childhood.

Baseball is a game of taking chances and creating opportunities. Sometimes, those chances don’t work out. The opportunities fall flat — that’s when mistakes are made and things get messy. Other times, everything falls right into place.

On Friday night in Miami, it was more of the former than the latter for the Guardians, who dropped the series opener, 3-2, to the Marlins at loanDepot park.

Early on, Cleveland had chances. The Guardians had a runner reach in the first four innings, and only twice did that runner advance past second.

So, let’s break down some of those key moments, starting from the top. Tyler Freeman led off the game with a double, but he was cut down for the second out of the inning while trying to steal third.

“We made some mistakes tonight,” manager Stephen Vogt said. “[Freeman] thought he saw something there and took a shot, ran into an out in the first, and kind of killed the momentum. He knows that he made a mistake and that’s OK. We talked about it. We’re going to learn from it and move on.”

In the next inning, Gabriel Arias reached with a two-out single. But he was caught trying to swipe second base. That time, though, it wasn’t his fault — though there were two outs — but a stellar throw from Marlins backstop Nick Fortes was to blame. The Guardians are now 57-for-80 (71%) in stolen base chances.

“Fortes made an absolute perfect throw to throw Gabby out,” Vogt said. “Gabby got a good jump and it just took an absolute perfect throw, he threw it right into the tag and a really good tag there at second.”

“It’s a tough team to defend against because they have speed, they put the ball in play,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Really well-managed team, too, because they don’t make mistakes. You have to play clean baseball to win that game and to beat them, and tonight we did.”

Two early chances, two attempts at generating a scoring opportunity, both left on the field.

There were also chances that the Guardians took and ran with. Logan Allen, a product of Florida International University, delivered a quality start, allowing just two runs (via back-to-back homers) on four hits and three walks over six innings.

“I thought Logan threw the ball great,” Vogt said. “… Really kept them off balance and threw six strong innings. Really outstanding for him, especially [a] good bounceback.”

And in the third, Brayan Rocchio — who has family living in Miami — crushed his first Major League homer, a two-run knock that put Cleveland on the board first. It was a big moment for the rookie, who has been struggling at the plate. (He entered Friday with a .211 average).

“That was awesome,” Vogt said. “Good moment for [Rocchio]. Obviously got us going offensively, and, you know, Rocc — we’ve challenged Rocc a lot. He’s been great at shortstop and he’s struggled sometimes with offense, particularly right-handed. … So it was really cool to see him respond, to step up today.”

The Guards had one last big opportunity on the bases that the Marlins squashed. It came after a pinch-hit triple from Daniel Schneemann to lead off the eighth inning. Two batters later, Cleveland had runners on the corners (after Freeman walked) with one out, the game tied, 2-2.

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag. Click here to view original asset

So when José Ramírez flew out to right field, the ball going a Statcast-projected 264 feet, Schneemann saw his chance, tagged up at third, and took off for home plate. This time, bad luck got the best of the Guardians. Right fielder Dane Myers’ throw was right on the money, the ball bouncing on the infield grass and Fortes snatching it to apply the tag.

And just like that, another opportunity came and went.

“I didn’t really necessarily think it was runners in scoring position [0-for-6] — where I thought we fell short was when we were 1-for-5 in situational hitting opportunities,” Vogt said. “We didn’t move the runner a couple times, and we had three opportunities with the runner on third, less than two [outs] and didn’t get it done.

“Those nights happen. It’s frustrating — we’re all frustrated about it. I know these guys are working and doing their best, and those are just opportunities that we need to cash in [on] and we didn’t tonight.”