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Josh Naylor puts a stop to Cleveland’s four-game skid

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Cleveland squandered a 5-0 lead but squeaked past the Angels late

Cleveland Indians v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Cleveland coughed up a five-run lead but Josh Naylor’s go-ahead home run in the eighth inning was enough to top the Los Angeles Angels and put the brakes on a four-game skid.

Andrew Heaney did not get a warm welcome from Cleveland in the first inning. Cesar Hernandez did him a solid and struck out to start the game, but then Amed Rosario nearly blasted a hole through Heaney with a liner up the middle. Heaney made the mistake of serving up a home run pitch to José Ramírez, giving Cleveland a 2-0 lead. He walked Franmil Reyes on five pitches and then surrendered a double to Eddie Rosario to put runners on second and third. Harold Ramirez reached base on a sharp grounder that second baseman Philip Gosselin mishandled. Only Reyes should have scored but Rosario caught Gosselin napping and scored from second.

Leading 4-0 with one out in the first inning, Josh Naylor shot the gap in the left side of the infield for a single. Both he and Ramirez were able to advance on a passed ball, before a sacrifice fly from Yu Chang scored Ramirez to make it 5-0 Cleveland. Not a bad start.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a comfortable enough cushion for Zach Plesac. After pitching seven innings of no-hit ball against the Mariners a week ago, Plesac seemed to come down with whatever is ailing Cleveland’s rotation at the moment. Los Angeles punished his mistakes. He gave up a solo shot to Shohei Ohtani in the first inning, then in the fourth surrendered a three-run homer on a slider to Justin Upton, who entered the game batting .105/.209/.263 in his last 43 plate appearances. Los Angeles finally completed the comeback in the seventh inning when Plesac left another slider over the plate, this time to José Iglesias for a game-tying home run.

It didn’t help that Cleveland’s lineup went cold after the first inning. Instead of tearing into the Angels’ bullpen after Heaney made his exit in the fourth inning, they went to sleep against Jaime Barria. His only other appearance this season was a disastrous outing in April in which he surrendered seven runs over two innings. But against Cleveland, he didn’t even have to break a sweat, only allowing two baserunners in four scoreless innings of work.

It was only after Barria hit the showers ahead of the eighth inning — and the Angels had erased what was once a 5-0 lead — that Cleveland came back to life. Naylor took Alex Claudio yard on a changeup that bounced off the video board in right field, above the home run line.

Bryan Shaw retired the side in order in the eighth, and James Karinchak sewed up the victory in the final frame with a scoreless ninth inning.