May 15, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Canadian Josh Naylor belted go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning in three consecutive games for the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend.
With that, the Mississauga, Ont., native became the first player in the expansion era (1961 to present) to hit go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or later in three consecutive games, according to ESPN Stats.
On Friday, Naylor socked a solo home run off Los Angeles Angels reliever Matt Moore to give the Guardians a 3-2 lead. However, the Angels would rally for two runs in the top of the ninth for a 4-3 win.
For an encore on Saturday, with the Guardians trailing 6-4 in the eighth, Naylor hit a three-run shot off Angels right-hander Ryan Tepera to put his club up 7-6. The Guardians eventually won 8-6.
And finally on Sunday, Naylor duplicated his Saturday feat, when with the score tied 1-1 in the eighth, he belted a three-run home run off Angels reliever Carlos Estévez to give the Guardians a 4-1 lead. They hung on for a 4-3 win.
Sarah Langs, of MLB.com, tweeted on Sunday that Naylor has now hit eight go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning or later since 2021, which is two more than any other major leaguer.
Naylor’s weekend heroics saw him raise his batting average from .195 to .214. He also leads the Guardians with six home runs and 26 RBIs.
And this isn’t the first time Naylor has made major league history.
The left-handed hitting slugger set a big league record when he notched hits in his first five postseason at bats in 2020 for the Guardians in their American League Wild Card Series against the New York Yankees. Naylor also became just the second big leaguer (equaling Chris Burke with the Houston Astros in 2005) to collect four extra-base hits in their first five postseason at bats.
Naylor returned from a devastating leg injury in 2022 to set career-bests with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs. In 122 games for the Guardians, he also established career-highs in hits (115), doubles (28) and runs (47). He also registered six hits in seven postseason contests, including a home run in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees at Progressive Field.
Selected in the first round (12th overall) of the 2015 MLB draft by the Miami Marlins, Naylor honed his skills with the Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team. He was dealt to the San Diego Padres on July 29, 2016 and made his major league debut with the Padres against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 24, 2019.
He played parts of two seasons with the Padres before being traded to the Guardians on August 31, 2020 in a package along with fellow Canadian Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) for right-hander Mike Clevinger.