Naylor hits grand slam, 3-run HR late in Guardians' wild comeback win
Monday was Josh Naylor Day in Chicago.
In what was perhaps the wildest game of the young season, Naylor took over late to lead his Cleveland Guardians to a 12-9 comeback victory over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox led 8-2 through eight innings before Cleveland stormed back with a six-run ninth. With the Guardians down to their last out, Naylor stunned the South Siders by blasting a game-tying grand slam off All-Star closer Liam Hendriks.
The first baseman saved the day again in the bottom of the ninth, this time with his glove. After third baseman Jose Ramirez made a diving stop to rob Adam Engel, Naylor's incredible pick saved a game-ending throwing error and sent the contest into extras.
Finally, the 24-year-old capped his amazing night by crushing the eventual game-winning, three-run homer in the top of the 11th.
Naylor, who also had an RBI double in the eighth inning, is just the third player in franchise history to hit two homers in the ninth or later during a single game, joining Willie Kirkland in 1963 and Hall of Famer Earl Averill in 1932, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com. He's also the first player to record at least eight RBIs in the eighth or later since the statistic became official in 1920, per Elias Sports Bureau.
"He looks really good in the batter's box," Guardians manager Terry Francona said, according to The Associated Press. "And when things happen, how much it means, he's really emotional. But I get it. He missed playing baseball and being with his teammates."
Naylor's outstanding performance continues what's becoming a remarkable comeback story. The Mississauga, Ontario, native missed most of last season after suffering a horrific leg injury while diving for a ball. Since returning to action on April 15, Naylor's hitting .338/.370/.574 with four homers and 20 RBIs.
For the White Sox, the collapse ended their six-game winning streak and dropped them into third place in the AL Central, a half-game back of Cleveland.