CLEVELAND — If you’re in the crowd that thinks baseball is boring, watch Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor and get ready to change your mind. Naylor brings a level of excitement baseball could use more of, and earlier this week when the Guardians took on the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, Naylor highlighted why baseball is, in fact, very fun.
On a 2-2- count with two outs, down one run in the bottom of the 10th inning with a runner on third, Naylor didn't just want to tie the game—he wanted to win it. With a swing and a drive, Naylor swung hard and it paid off. The first baseman's opposite-field dinger gave the Guardians a walk-off win and gave Naylor his first career walk-off home run.
"I just tried to hit a homer to be honest. I was just trying to end the game, I didn't really want to hit a single, I wanted to end it," Naylor said after the win. "I knew I could do it, whoever I faced, I knew I could do it. I was just waiting for the right pitch and trying to foul off pitches until I got the right pitch and I got a good one later in the count and just tried to do damage on it and end it and thank God I did."
Josh Naylor walk-offs are unlike anything you've ever seen before.#ForTheLand | #GuardiWins pic.twitter.com/d8DK5GVHCF— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) June 30, 2022
The moment alone was enough to highlight the joy of baseball, but Naylor's reaction was even better. Naylor flipped his bat, ran the bases, threw off his helmet, ran into his teammates at home plate and got doused with an ice bath as the team celebrated the win over the Twins. Naylor stayed fiery with excitement, ripping his jersey off, punching the air and pounding his chest and head before and after running up to manager Terry Francona and giving him a friendly headbutt (as Francona wore a helmet).
“I've got to go ice my neck,” Francona joked at his post-game press conference.
Naylor continues to show his passion for the game this season. In May as the Guardians took on the Chicago White Sox, Naylor hit a game-tying grand slam in the ninth inning and his reaction again showed his fire.
Josh Naylor with his 8th RBI tonight. The human tornado is absolutely tearing it up! #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/3Rb7EdvrUJ— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) May 10, 2022
Naylor has the kind of energy that baseball should be embracing more. It's fun, it's competitive, and most importantly, it can ignite something within a team.
“It's special, Nayls has been heroic this year, some late-inning homers but yeah, I think that can spark the team. Obviously we're playing some good teams here in a row and battling a couple tough losses. That's huge, that's awesome,” said starting pitcher Cal Quantrill
The Guardians will look to play off Naylor's energy Thursday as they face the Twins again at Progressive field before beginning a three-game series with the Yankees on Thursday.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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