Spring Training


Saturday, April 2
Cleveland 1 at Texas 3
Surprise Stadium, Surprise
Temp: 85 at 6:07 first pitch

Garcia Bomb Beats Bieber

Cleveland starter Shane Bieber, he of lofty, top ten fantasy baseball pitcher status, ranking somewhere between Shohei Ohtani and Julio Urias, fairly cruised through the first three innings of Ranger batsmen, notching six strikeouts along the way. In the second, he gave up a loud two-out double to left by Kole Calhoun and walked Andy Ibanez before fanning Nick Solak to end the inning. Bieber wasn’t so lucky in the fourth. Mitch Garver singled to third and Ernie Clement’s throw in the dirt enabled Garver to gallop to second. Nathaniel Lowe cashed him in with a base hit to left. Up came Adolis Garcia, who teed up a Bieber offering, golfing a towering drive to left over the Boulevard Beer sign for a 3-0 Texas lead. Bieber stayed in for one more batter, striking out Calhoun before being replaced by Bryan Shaw.

The Guardians got a run back in the fifth when diminutive number 67 Steven Kwan, who a fan in front of me assured me had “made the team,” drew a one-out walk. After Oscar Mercado popped out to shallow center, Clement doubled to right, putting runners at second and third. A wild ball four pitch from Zak Kent saw Kwan scamper home to make the final score, 3-1.

Ballpark Buzz … Attendance of 5,005 seemed a generous number. … The JUGS Gun radar rap sheet: Bush–97, White–95, Kent–96, Richards–94, Bieber–91, Morgan–93 … Both clubs played the shift ad nauseum, perhaps 75% of the time. When lefty Calhoun came up in the sixth, Cleveland played him as a dead pull hitter. No fielder could be found on the left side of the infield. Kole might want to work on his bunting. … After Garcia’s two-run poke, Kwan had the most impressive at bat in the sixth. The lefty — who crowds the plate like a slugger — inside-outed a Joe Barlow pitch, mashing an opposite field clothesline rope that careened into the left field corner for a double. … Looking for a deep fantasy dark horse reliever? Say no more. The Guardians’ Eli Morgan dazzled with his deceptive, sneaky-fast 93-mph heater that seems to come out of his armpit. He struck out Corey Seager, Lowe, Solak and Cameron Cauley in three innings of work. Morgan only allowed a Marcus Semien single in the seventh, Semien’s only hit in a 1-for-4 night. In two spring appearances totaling five innings, Morgan has struck out six, walked none and allowed three hits to land in the Guardians bullpen. Stash ‘im if ya need ‘im. … It’s been a great, abbreviated-but-welcomed spring in the Cactus League. Opening Day draws near with everybody chomping at the first place bit. See you next year. Same bat time. Same bat website.