Josh Naylor crushed a three-run tiebreaking homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the host Cleveland Guardians to a 4-3 victory and series win against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Naylor’s blast, a 360-foot shot into an 18-mph wind, came off the third pitch from Angels closer Carlos Estevez, who appeared distracted by a pitch timer violation on his first pitch. It gave Cleveland a 4-1 lead.
Naylor homered in all three games of the series, giving him six for the season for the Guardians, who rank last in Major League Baseball in homers with just 23.
The Angels rallied for two runs in the ninth against MLB saves leader Emmanuel Clase. Zach Neto doubled and Mickey Moniak singled before Shohei Ohtani drove in Neto with a single.
Moniak scored on Taylor Ward’s groundout to third base, but Ohtani made a baserunning error, getting tagged out trying to reach third. Then Clase got Brandon Drury to ground into a game-ending force play for his 14th save.
For seven innings, the game was a pitchers’ duel between 24-year-old Cleveland rookie Tanner Bibee and the Angels’ Patrick Sandoval, two years’ older than Bibee. The two were teammates in 2015 on the Mission Viejo (Calif.) High baseball team.
The Guardians opened the scoring with an unearned run in the second inning after Naylor and Andres Gimenez hit soft singles, and with two out, Neto, the Angels rookie shortstop, booted Will Brennan’s routine ground ball while Naylor scored from third.
Bibee faced the minimum through seven innings, the longest of his four major league starts. But he exited after the Angels tied the game in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Gio Urshela.
Both starting pitchers lasted 7 2/3 innings and 98 pitches each. Bibee gave up just two hits and struck out seven with no walks while allowing one run, while Sandoval (3-2) scattered three runs (two earned), five hits, one walk one and fanned five.
James Karinchak (1-4) earned the win by retiring Mike Trout on a fly out to center to end the top of the eighth.
The Angels, who broke a 10-game losing streak to the Guardians with a comeback win on Friday, are now 2-23 in road games against Cleveland dating back to 2015.
–Field Level Media