Guardians take another swing at Tanner Houck in Red Sox rematch

Field Level Media

April 22, 2024 at 9:11 pm.

The Cleveland Guardians took three of four at Boston last week. However, they didn’t have an answer for Tanner Houck, who recorded his first career complete game against them.

Looking for a better effort against Houck, the host Guardians aim to cool off the Red Sox while trying for a fifth consecutive victory Tuesday night.

Under first-year manager Stephen Vogt, Cleveland entered play Monday with a major league-best 16-6 record and plus-52 run differential, plus an AL-high 124 runs. The Guardians’ pitching ranks among the AL’s best in team ERA (3.03), opponents’ batting average (.218) and strikeouts (209).

“Anytime you can win early in the season, those are wins no one can take away from us,” Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters.

“That gives us a great foundation for the season.”

The Guardians outscored Oakland 22-7 during a three-game home sweep over the weekend. They are 6-3 and winners of four in a row at home.

“I think everything’s just kind of coming together,” Cleveland pitcher Tanner Bibee told the club’s official website.

Among the early-season highlights for the Guardians was scoring 21 runs over four games at Boston last week.

However, in its only defeat during that set, 2-0 on Wednesday, Cleveland was stymied by Houck (3-1, 1.35 ERA), in a game that lasted an efficient 1 hour, 49 minutes. The right-hander allowed singles to Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor and Gabriel Arias and struck out nine without a walk on 94 pitches for Boston’s first individual shutout since June 2022.

“Go out there and get strike one, strike two and get these guys out,” Houck said. “You can bask in that stuff after. But definitely just going out there focused and knowing what I had to do.”

Embarking on his fourth full major league season, all with Boston, Houck has never won more than six games in a year. However, he’s already halfway to matching that mark and has allowed four earned runs in 26 2/3 innings — all coming April 12 against the Los Angeles Angels.

Houck is a part of a Red Sox rotation that’s off to a surprisingly strong start, leading the majors with a 1.73 ERA. Boston’s entire pitching staff was stellar in sweeping a three-game weekend set at Pittsburgh, yielding four runs and striking out 25 with six walks.

However, Boston needs to find a way to cool off the Guardians, who rapped out 10 extra-base hits at Fenway Park last week.

Arias was 6-of-17 with two doubles, a triple and three RBIs against the Red Sox this month. Teammate Steven Kwan is batting .358 on the season but went 0-for-4 versus Houck last week.

Houck once again will oppose the Guardians’ Ben Lively (0-1, 3.60 ERA), who allowed two runs, three hits and a walk and struck out seven in five innings at Boston during his Cleveland debut after opening the season on the injured list due to illness.

Boston catcher Connor Wong homered off the right-hander last week. Wong is batting .319 this season.

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