CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Guardians were three runs behind Minnesota in the 10th inning, recovering behind Amed Rosario’s fourth hit of the game and a dramatic walk-off home run from Josh Naylor for a 7-6 comeback win Wednesday at progressive field .
Rosario doubled up for Twins’ Emilio Pagan to score extra runner Richie Palacios and move Steven Kwan into third place. Kwan hit on a pass from Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers before Naylor connected for his ninth home run, a two-run shot over the wall in links by Minnesota’s Jharel Cotton.
Naylor’s home run sparked a wild celebration down the first baseline, with the mild-mannered infielder unleashing his unhinged alter ego normally reserved for late-inning heroics. Naylor screamed, cursed and headbutted manager Terry Francona as the two met near Cleveland’s dugout. Luckily, Francona had donned a batting helmet in anticipation of the encounter.
Afterwards, Naylor said his only concern was walking away with a win.
“I was just trying to finish the game,” Naylor said. “I didn’t want to meet a single person. I wanted to end it. I just wanted to win.”
Naylor said he was sitting on a substitution, but Cotton threw him three straight fastballs. He fouled a fastball before adjusting his approach and taking the next in the opposite direction.
“I was just waiting for the right pitch and trying to fudge pitches until I got a good one later in the count,” Naylor said. “I tried to do harm, and thank God I did it.”
Francona, who jokingly complained to reporters about neck pain from Naylor’s headbutt, praised the 25-year-old for changing his approach when Cotton (2-2, 3.66) scored twice.
“You just hope they open the hole momentarily, get a ball in there and let’s keep playing,” Francona said. “That was something special.”
Minnesota took a three-run lead top of the inning when pinch-hitter Carlos Correa drove a base hit on the go-ahead run to fend off Eli Morgan. Byron Buxton, the extra runner in second place to start extra innings, moved up to third place when rookie Richie Palacios caught a foul fly ball from Luis Arraez down the left field line.
Palacios made a nice play to snatch the ball before it fell into the net in front of the seats but couldn’t recover in time to stop Buxton from moving 90 feet. Morgan beat Jorge Polanco and got past Max Kepler on the count before the Twins outfielder pushed his eighth home run to the right spots to put Minnesota three ahead.
But Naylor’s cutting drive on a 2-2 finish was Cleveland’s third walk-off win of the season and 17th come-from-behind win. Morgan (4-2, 2.75) clinched the win and the Guardians went 7-2 in extra innings games that year. Francona said runs count no matter how or when they are delivered.
“Home runs are welcome from us, but we have what we have and they keep fighting,” Francona said. “If we can score, I don’t care how we do it. It’s just nice for us to hit a home run every now and then and it definitely helps.”
Cleveland took the lead in the first after three direct hits from Kwan, Rosario and José Ramírez. After a Naylor flyout, Franmil Reyes short-sent a ground ball that Jorge Polanco set up and threw into second to pull Ramírez back. But Ramírez’ slide in the bag resulted in Luis Arraez throwing well over first base, allowing Kwan and Rosario to score and moving Reyes to second on the error.
With a 2-0 lead in the third game, Kwan managed a single and Rosario doubled before Naylor overran Kwan with an RBI sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead. Kwan and Rosario went 7-on-8 together with two doubles, a walk and five runs scored. It was Rosario’s fifth game with at least three goals and Kwan’s fourth attempt with multiple goals in his last nine games.
The game changed in the fifth, however, when Ramírez first lined up in a double play at the end of the inning, with both Kwan and Rosario back on base. The momentum shifted to Minnesota when Jose Miranda caught the smash from Ramírez’s 107.1mph bat and dived to tag Rosario before he could get back in the pocket.
“That has a chance to be 5-0 and instead it’s 3-0 and they come right back in the next inning,” Francona said. “That was a big swing for her.”
An inning later, the Twins leveled against Quantrill with a three-run inning that featured Gary Sanchez’s two-out double followed by home runs from Alex Kirilloff and Gio Urshela. It was the second time the Twins had played longballs back-to-back this season.
For Urshela it is the seventh home run this season and the fourth against his former club. Urshela entered the game in 22 games against Cleveland with .275 and .525 strokes.
Quantrill regrouped and pulled Ryan Jeffers back to third on a grounder to end the inning and then downed the next six Minnesota batters he faced, including a strikeout by Sanchez in the eighth. The right-hander allowed three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks in the eight innings that tied his career.
It was Quantrill’s 11th start in at least six innings and his 10th quality start of the season that put Shane Bieber at the front of the team.
“They put barrels on the ball, that was disappointing,” Quantrill said of his sixth inning. “It got us in a bit of a bind there but I thought we made a good recovery.”
Next: The series ends Thursday with a 1:10 first pitch at Progressive Field. Cleveland will send right-hander Shane Bieber (3-4, 3.07) up the mound while the Twins counter with right-hander Chris Archer (2-3, 3.14). The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM 1100 AM and the Guardians Radio Network.
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