CLEVELAND - When you think about offensive threats for the Indians as they try to advance in the postseason, one player you probably never would mention is left fielder Josh Naylor.
But while the rest of the Indians offense was flailing away at Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in the team’s 12-3 loss Tuesday night, Naylor was the lone bright spot on the Indians offensive side of the ball.
Naylor had four hits in the contest, just missing hitting for the cycle, missing out by the hardest hit in all of baseball, the triple.
He got the Indians first hit of the game in the second with a double, and then came back with a homer off Cole in the 4th.
In the 7th he blooped a single to center, and finally in the 9th he again doubled off the wall in left center.
It may have been a surprising night for Indians fans watching Naylor, but he had some prior experience in facing Cole - even though it was of the video game variety.
“I faced him on MLB the Show, he’s a very good pitcher,” Naylor joked after the loss.
“He was on tonight, I was lucky enough to get a few off him, but we’re going to come out tomorrow and try and get that “W” and keep pushing forward.”
Naylor came to the Indians in the mega deal on July 31st that saw the team move pitcher Mike Clevinger to the San Diego Padres.
The team committed to playing Naylor at left field for the remainder of the season, and also wanted to see what he could do at the plate.
In 22 games Naylor hit .230, he didn’t homer until the hit off Cole, and drove in two runs. He walked four times and struck out eight times.
While the numbers don’t jump out at anyone, it was good to see him step up on the big stage and have a big night against Cole and the Yankees.
“He was getting on top of the ball, there was no launch angle in that swing, he was 4-for-4 and was a triple away from the cycle, he had great at-bats," Indians acting manager Sandy Alomar said.
Naylor is just 23 years old so he’s got plenty of room to grow, and while next season he’ll get a chance to play just about every day in an outfield that likely won’t be able to add much this offseason, he doesn’t want 2020 to end so fast.
“These are do or die games, it’s win or go home, and I really don't want to go home yet, it was an unfortunate game tonight but we are going to bounce back,” Naylor said.
We will see if Naylor’s offensive success can continue in game two against Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, and if it can this time translate to a victory to tie up the best-of-three series.
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