What a rare sight it was, watching the Cleveland Guardians smashing home runs, spraying hits all over the ballpark and repeatedly touching down on home plate.
Josh Naylor homered, had a career-high four hits and drove in six runs to highlight an uncommon power display by Cleveland in a 12-8 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.
Josh Bell and Gabriel Arias also went deep for the Guardians, who had gone 264 consecutive plate appearances without a long ball before Naylor connected in the fourth inning. Cleveland notched season highs in runs and hits (17) while scoring in double figures for the first time in a nine-inning game.
“It’s nice to see these guys score runs and get some hits,” manager Terry Francona said. “You can pat guys on the back and say, ‘Hey, nice swing,’ but now, having something to show for it, hopefully it keeps them going because they’ve been frustrated. I’m frustrated with them. But I’m happy for them today.”
Naylor doubled in the third inning, hit a two-run homer in the fourth, added a three-run double in the fifth and tacked on an RBI single in the seventh.
“Everyone did their part today,” Naylor said. “We had runners get on base, and I think that each runner that gets on base feeds confidence into the next guy. We played a complete game of baseball today.”
Steven Kwan had three hits and scored three runs for the Guardians, who took two of three from Baltimore to win successive series for the first time since the start of the season. Prior to coming to Baltimore, Cleveland captured a three-game series against St. Louis.
“Two great teams. It's huge,” said starter Shane Bieber, who lasted only four innings. “A lot of different individuals stepped up.”
Anthony Santander homered for Baltimore and Aaron Hicks had two hits and scored twice in his Orioles debut before leaving with muscle cramps. But Baltimore blew leads of 4-1 and 7-6 while dropping a second straight series for the first time in 2023.
Baltimore used seven pitchers, opening with Keegan Akin and shifting to Austin Voth. Each of the first five gave up at least one run."
“It was good to see our offense fight back, but kind of an off day for the pitchers,” Voth said.
Cleveland trailed 5-3 in the fourth inning before Naylor connected off Cionel Pérez, and Bell followed with another long ball.
Santander's two-run drive in the bottom half put the Orioles up 7-6 before the Guardians took control with a five-run fifth. After Cleveland loaded the bases against Mychal Givens (0-1), Naylor doubled in three runs and Arias homered to make it 11-7.
Xzavion Curry (2-0), the second of seven Guardians pitchers, pitched the fifth inning and got the win.
José Ramírez hit two doubles to move into a tie for fifth place with Ken Keltner for most extra-base hits by a Cleveland player (538).
HICKS UP - AND OUT
Hicks had an up and down afternoon in his first game with the Orioles. He started in center field and went 2 for 2 with a walk and two runs scored, but left after the sixth inning with muscle tightness.
Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde hopes a change of scenery will rejuvenate Hicks, who batted .188 with the Yankees before being released and subsequently signed by the Orioles on Tuesday.
“He's had a tough year so far,” Hyde said. “Hopefully he can turn it around for us with a fresh start, a new beginning.”
Guardians: RH Triston McKenzie (shoulder) threw 85 pitches for Triple-A Columbus in what might be his final rehab outing while on the 60-day injured list. McKenzie pitched three innings Tuesday before rain stopped play, and he rounded out the night by throwing in the bullpen. Now it's up to the team to decide if the 25-year-old is ready to make his 2023 debut.
Orioles: OF Austin Hays was held out because of an illness, Hyde said.
Guardians: RH Tanner Bibee (1-1, 2.88 ERA) starts Thursday night in the opener of a four-game road series against AL Central rival Minnesota.
Orioles: After a day off Thursday, Baltimore begins a three-game series in San Francisco.
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