The Guardians use a 3-run home run in the ninth inning to outpace the Yankees

The Guardians use a 3-run home run in the ninth inning to outpace the Yankees

NEW YORK – A few of the players at the Guardians club kept pointing out the same thing Monday night: turn the calendar over.

The team got off to a slow start through April. A 13-15, to be exact. And with suddenly high expectations for a club entering the 2022 season with expectations of finishing toward the bottom of the AL Central, the losing record after the first full month seemed even more disappointing. That’s why Cleveland is focused on going strong in May.

April is in the rearview mirror, but the scourge of offensive guards was overwhelmingly present during the first eight innings of Monday night’s Series Opener at Yankee Stadium. Going into the ninth, Cleveland scored only one hit – Amid Rosario’s single in the first inning.

Silence followed the attack, as it looked like the club would suffer another ugly loss after a tough trip to Boston at the weekend. Instead, the Guardians found the spark that led them to so many back-to-back wins last season, as they rallied to steal a 3-2 victory from the Yankees.

Stephen Cowan kicked things off with a hit single. Rosario reached on a fielding error by reliever Clay Holmes. Jose Ramirez singled and Josh Naylor had only a handful of runs in his career against the Yankees, handed in the clutch, as he singled off into a right pitch to tie the game. After a Josh Bell walk and an Andres Jimenez offense, the Guards were able to push the deciding run when Mike Zunino drew a bases-loaded free pass.

“When we’re able to do that, that’s kind of what we’re built from,” Zunino said.

Cleveland certainly had some luck on his lap to help make that happen. Domingo German, who had been untouchable through eight innings, was pulled after allowing Cowan the ninth on his 88th pitch. And when Yankees coach Aaron Boone turned to Holmes to take on Rosario, it ensured that the right-hander would face Naylor with the three-hit minimum rule.

“Yeah, you need some stuff like that to go well,” Zunino said. “You know, it’s one of those things where we said, ‘Hey, let’s flip the calendar. Let’s get off to a good start. ”

And if not for Naylor, the Rangers would not have been able to start the month on a positive note. If they want that success to continue, he will need to continue being that player.

In his last complete game, Naylor went 3-for-5 with a three-run clutch double against the Red Sox. Next, he threw the tie-breaker against the Yankees. He’s been able to be patient on the plate, which has struggled at times this year, especially in the big moments. Here’s a look at the breakdown of his stats through April:

Total:212 average, 612 OPS
with the men at the base:213 average, .529 OPS
With runners in scoring position179 average, .426 OPS

“[Hitting coach Chris Valaika] “Show him some numbers with runners on base, how his aggressiveness has really gone up and that he needs to try and connect with him,” said Guardians manager Terry Francona. “He doesn’t need to do any more. He just needs to be the batter he is. That’s good enough.”

Following this advice is proven to be beneficial on Mondays.

“It’s either a good start or a bad start,” Naylor said. “Even through the whole year. … I’d rather struggle at the start and have a great midfield and finish than have a hot start, average average and bad finish.”

A slow start has always been part of the Cleveland story. Last year, the club went 15-14 in its first 29 games. This year, they are 14-15 years old. And a big part of the Guardians’ identity will again be built around the comeback, considering they already have six plate appearances to give them a lead in the ninth inning or later, which leads them.

Now, it’s up to Guardians to build on that momentum and prove that April was just another slow start.

“I think we’ve made it clear that games in April are as important as games at any other time,” said Guardians player Cal Quantrill. “But we’ve fought this last three series. We’ve been grinding. I think it was important for us to win this match the way we did today. Hopefully we can pick up a little bit from here and start taking a couple [of] series.”

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