Gonzalez sends Cleveland to ALDS with HR in 15th inning
CLEVELAND — For months, the Guardians have posted exciting victories, some coming from behind and others leaving opponents on the floor. With this they have made an amazing campaign even more special.
Cleveland shouldn’t reach these heights so soon. But its young members aren’t going to complain about growing up so fast either.
Rookie Oscar Gonzalez tied the longest playoff game in history at 0-0, opening his 15th game with a home run as the Guardians defeated the series-clinching wild-card Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Saturday.
Coming to the plate accompanied by a SpongeBob SquarePants song, Gonzalez found a Corey Kluber cutter and sent the ball over the left-center field fence for a 1-0 lead.
It was the 432nd pitch in nearly five hours of play.
After Cleveland’s already spectacular campaign took on a new fairy tale, Dominican bases and his teammates gathered near the plate as a large portion of the 34,971 fans celebrated.
“There’s no way to describe it,” said Gonzalez, who threw the bat, which spun in the air, before jogging to first base. “It was such an exciting moment that I can’t describe in words.”
The youngest team in the majors opens a five-game sweep of the division series against the American League East champion Yankees on Tuesday in New York.
Cleveland defied the odds all year in its first season to adopt the Guardians moniker. The team won the central division like no one expected.
Now, he has swept the more experienced Rays in two games. He’ll face the big-hitting, high-paying Yankees, but president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti doesn’t want to paint the matchup as a David-versus-Goliath story.
“We’re not going to get involved or get involved in outside stories about our team,” he said. “These guys have written their own history. Obviously the Yankees are a great team … but these guys want a challenge.”
Gonzalez is one of 17 players to make his debut with Cleveland this season. So, it is only fitting that he defines the encounter.
“I don’t think we were worried about it at the time,” manager Terry Francona said. “It could have been any of the seniors. We don’t care. We don’t have options, but we’re happy he got that win.
A tense four-hour, 57-minute game was the longest without a run in postseason history. He went 13 scoreless innings in the first series of the 2020 NL wild-card series between Atlanta and Cincinnati.
For the Rays, Cuba’s Yandy Diaz is 6-0, Randy Arosarena is 5-1. Dominicans Vander Franco 5-1, Vidal Brujan 2-1, Manuel Marcotte 5-1, Francisco Mejia 3-0, Jose Siri 6-0. Colombian Harold Ramirez is 6-0. Mexican Isaac Paredes 2-1. Panama Christian Bethancourt 2-0. David Peralta of Venezuela 1-0.
For the Guardians, Dominicans Amed Rosario went 5-0, Jose Ramirez went 6-0, Gonzalez went 5-2 and scored a run. Venezuelan Andres Gimenez is 5-0.