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Jul 8, 2024 11:28 pm

Guardians look to awaken bats vs. Tigers

Ben Lively

The Cleveland Guardians had their offense silenced in their first game at Detroit this season on Monday. The visitors will look for their bats to heat up on Tuesday when their four-game series against the Tigers continues.

Cleveland was limited to three hits, all singles, in a 1-0 loss on Monday, the sixth time this season the Guardians were shut out. The game’s only run scored on an error as Detroit won its fourth straight game.

Ben Lively (8-4, 3.14 ERA) will start for Cleveland on Tuesday, aiming to build on back-to-back quality starts.

The right-hander held the Kansas City Royals to two runs on six hits in six innings on June 27, then limited the Chicago White Sox to three runs on six hits over six frames on Thursday.

Lively can’t overpower hitters, so he uses other methods to get outs.

“You have to stay honest,” he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Everyone is a different pitcher. I try to locate and mix it up. Other guys try to blow doors. Just pitch who you are. Be your guy.”

Lively’s success is one of the biggest surprises in the league this season. The 32-year-old veteran split last season between Cincinnati and the minor leagues, posting a 4-7 record with a 5.38 ERA in 19 games (12 starts) for the Reds. The Guardians signed him to a one-year, $750,000 contract in December.

“I mean, straight up I could have been here for two weeks. That’s just the way it goes,” he said. “I just figured a couple of fastball locations out. Had a couple of good games. I just didn’t want to look back. It was just getting that opportunity. Foot on the gas. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about. One speed. Let’s go.”

When something goes wrong, Lively pushes it to the back of his mind.

“I feel like all that (doubt) has been eliminated from my game plan,” he said. “I’m just throwing everything with conviction. I’m throwing everything as hard as I can. Even though it’s not that hard, but I’m still throwing it hard.”

Lively has made two appearances in his career against the Tigers, both in relief, and he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

In contrast, right-hander Kenta Maeda (2-5, 6.71 ERA) has been a major disappointment after signing a two-year, $24 million contract with Detroit as a free agent last offseason.

The eight-year veteran, who will start Tuesday for the Tigers, hasn’t notched a win since May 24.

Maeda has allowed five or more runs five times this year, including a season-high nine runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

“That has to do with how I pitched, especially with an early lead that our team gave me,” Maeda said. “I just feel bad for the team. I feel like I let the team down.

Maeda gave up nine hits and three walks while striking out three before he was pulled. All but one of the runs he allowed came with two outs, and he was knocked out of the game after serving up a homer on an 0-2 pitch.

“I have to be able to put away guys, especially with two strikes,” he said. “Those pitches with two strikes have to be better. My strikeout rate has gone down from last year (from 27 percent to 17 percent). If I can start making better two-strike pitches, that rate will go back up.”

The 36-year-old is 3-1 with a 5.45 ERA in seven career starts against Cleveland. The host Guardians tagged him for seven runs on five hits and three walks in two innings on May 7.

–Field Level Media

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