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Steven Kwan’s glove puts Guardians in position to sweep Rockies

May 15, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie (24) in action against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The hot Cleveland Guardians will look to complete a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies when the teams square off on Thursday afternoon in Denver.

The Guardians will shoot for their 13th win in 16 games.

Jose Ramirez has been carrying Cleveland all season, but the biggest play in Cleveland’s 7-5 victory Wednesday was made by left fielder Steven Kwan.

The Guardians led 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh and the Rockies had runners on first and third with two outs.

Colorado’s Jose Iglesias feasted on a pitch from Cleveland right-hander Trevor Stephan and sent a deep liner to left. Kwan dashed to his right and made a diving catch on the warning track to keep the Guardians ahead.

As Cleveland manager Terry Francona noted, the Rockies surely take the lead if Kwan’s dive comes up empty.

“I thought he had zero chance of catching that,” Francona said. “I’m thinking, ‘He’s going to leave his feet, and that guy at first is going to score.’ And he willed himself to catch that ball. That was a great play.”

Iglesias couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“Maybe the play of the year right there,” Iglesias said. “With the situation it was in and everything, it was pretty amazing. Unfortunately we get to see the dark side of it.”

The big defensive play helped send the Rockies to their ninth setback in the past 13 games. Colorado also has lost its past six home games.

Meanwhile, the red-hot Ramirez went 4-for-5 on Wednesday and teammate Amed Rosario scored four times while going 3-for-5 with his first homer of the season. Rosario fell a double short of hitting for the cycle.

Ramirez is 14-for-29 (.483) with two homers, seven doubles and nine RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak. He produced at least one extra-base hit in each of the games, and he leads the major leagues with 62 RBIs.

Rosario is 17-for-39 (.436) with 12 runs during a nine-game hitting streak. The homer he hit Wednesday traveled 447 feet.

“I think getting that home run out of his system will help him a little bit,” Francona said. “It’s been nagging at him.”

The Rockies have been outscored 41-24 during their six-game home slump, which began with four losses to the Atlanta Braves earlier this month. The drought continued with a 4-3 loss in 10 innings to the Guardians on Tuesday.

Colorado manager Bud Black bemoaned the lack of clutch hitting in the Wednesday loss.

“We just couldn’t generate the big hit when we needed to,” Black said.

The Rockies sustained a blow prior to the game when they learned right-handed setup man Tyler Kinley (0.75 ERA) will undergo surgery for an elbow strain and flexor tear in his forearm. Black said he expects the operation to be season-ending.

Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie (3-5, 3.09 ERA) will make his 12th appearance (11th start) of the season in the finale. The 24-year-old has allowed just 39 hits in 64 innings, but 11 of them were homers.

McKenzie is winless in his past three starts. He lost the first two before receiving a no-decision against the Oakland Athletics on Friday when he gave up two runs (both on solo homers) and five hits over six innings.

McKenzie is set to make his first career appearance against the Rockies.

Colorado will counter with right-hander Chad Kuhl (4-3, 3.70), who will make his 12th start of the season.

Kuhl, 29, lost to the San Diego Padres on Friday when he gave up five runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. It was his third loss in his past four decisions.

Kuhl beat Cleveland last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, when he gave up one run and four hits over six innings.

–Field Level Media