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Josh Naylor homers in return but Guardians split with Tigers

Not a banner day for the Guardians’ lineup

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Naylor homered in his first game back from the COVID injured list but the Cleveland Guardians’ lineup failed to do much else in a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Guardians starting pitcher Shane Bieber leaned heavily on his breaking pitches to keep the Tigers at bay, throwing his slider almost as often as threw his fastball. But the real difference in this outing, which saw Bieber record a season-high 10 strikeouts, was his knuckle curve.

Though Bieber did get off to a rocky start, issuing a leadoff walk to Robbie Grossman in the first inning and then an RBI double to Miguel Cabrera to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. Another walk came back to bite him in the second, with Jonathan Schoop getting the free pass before stealing second and scoring on an RBI single by Daz Cameron. Bieber seemed to settle in until the fifth inning, when questionable glove work from his infielders led to the go-ahead run scoring on what was ruled an error by Josh Naylor at first base trying to field a hard hit grounder.

For at least the first four innings, Cleveland was able to answer every run the Tigers scored. After Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Owen Miller dropped an RBI single into shallow center field to score Amed Rosario from second. The Tigers regained the lead in the second inning, but Josh Naylor knotted it up at 2-2 with a sole home run in the fourth.

But the Guardians’ success was limited against Tigers starting pitcher Alex Faedo. He pitched 5.1 innings and gave up six hits, two walks, and two earned runs. It could have been worse if not for an impressive catch by Daz Cameron at the center field wall in the fifth inning. With one out and Austin Hedges on first base, Rosario launched a 103.9 mph shot to straightaway center — with an xBA of .910 — that Cameron leaped up and snagged from the top of the wall. Hedges was doubled off first to give the Tigers an inning-ending 8-4-3 double play.

Detroit’s bullpen shut down Cleveland completely after Faedo exited in the sixth inning, holding the Guardians without a hit and only surrendering a single walk over the final 3.2 innings. Meanwhile, Cleveland sent Bryan Shaw to the mound in a one-run game in the eighth inning and he proceeded to give up a solo home run to Javier Baez, who had not homered since April 26.