Josh Naylor

When it comes to sheer power and raw intensity, Josh Naylor has it in spades. When Josh Naylor blasted a two-run home run to help the Twins win 7-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning, he celebrated by getting a batshit celebration, as is his wondrous way of showing his talent.

Many of the high fives were delivered with a force that might crush a human hand. When it comes to a Naylor win celebration, this one lived up to the hype. Even though Tito had a helmet on him, he still managed to get hit in the head.

Without Naylor’s low-and-away fastball into the concourse behind left field, this would be a very different recap. Despite having a three-run lead, the Guardians were on the verge of losing to the Twins for the second time in a row. It would have been their seventh defeat in eight games, and it came at the worst possible time for them. Instead, Naylor was the hero, and the Guards can seize the series and the AL Central lead with a win in the series finale tomorrow.

Josh Naylor

A career-high eight innings pitched by Cal Quantrill. Even though he didn’t give up a single walk or big hit, his mini-collapse in the sixth inning set up a miserable few innings for the Guardians.

After pitching five scoreless frames and recording two quick outs in the sixth, he allowed a double to Gary Sanchez before allowing back-to-back home runs to Alex Kiriloff and Gio Urshela. Suddenly, the game swung from 3-0 to 3-3 in the blink of an eye, with two outs remaining. And it remained that way over the course of a normal inning.

He threw 97 pitches with an average exit velocity of 87.5 mph, making those the only serious mistakes of the night. It was all sinkers and cutters for him tonight, with only a few sliders, which is a theme we’ve seen a lot from him this season. Maybe he’s finally figured out how to hit ground balls again with weak contact. Eight innings of this every five days sounds like a good deal to me!

A lot of people criticize Terry Francona for his bullpen strategy, but tonight’s game saw an excellent use of Emmanuel Clase thanks in part to Francona. It was Tito’s “closer” who was called upon when his offense could only muster one run in the bottom of the ninth. There were no goals in this game, but Clase did a good job blocking the Twins from scoring. If you’re going to win, you’re going to have to work for it. No matter how many innings later, I think it was the right decision.

A changeup by Eli Morgan ‚ÄĒ who was awarded the “win” because why not? ‚ÄĒ was underutilized tonight. Against Max Kepler, he grew quite predictable with his pitching in the important top of the 10th. He only threw it once.

Kepler’s go-ahead home run was so predictable that he took one of those changeups that caught too much of the plate and rocketed it at 102.7 mph. Put yourself in the shoes of a fan who had just witnessed this game before the 10th inning; it was devastating. Bullpen depth for the Guardians has been put to the test over this long period, and so far they haven’t come out on top.

Among the offensive standouts were Naylor’s teammates Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario. There were four hits apiece for Kwan and Rosario, with Kwan going 3-for-4 (including a walk in the 10th). There were no hits for Kwan, but Rosario had his 10th multi-hit game of the month. Even if Naylor’s bomb didn’t happen, the game wouldn’t have been close without those two at the top of the lineup anchoring it tonight as it did.

Franmil Reyes continues to have a bad night at the plate every night, as does Jos√© Ramirez, who the Twins didn’t even hesitate to face with a first-base wide-open in the 10th innings. In light of this, we may put it off for the night. Despite a tense finish, The Guardia Kids are alive.

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