Clearly inspired by clubhouse leader Bo Naylor, the Cleveland Guardians put on a rare offensive display this afternoon, trouncing the Diamondbacks, 12-3, to end their West Coast trip on a high note.
It’s a good thing Naylor was such an inspiration to his teammates in the dugout because he didn’t do much at the plate besides daw a walk and come around to score. In total, he went 0-for-4 on the day with a pair of strikeouts. He has about 300 more strikeouts before I even begin to grow concerned about his plate approach.
Bo’s brother, a guy by the name of Josh Naylor, went ballistic on the field with a four-hit, three-RBI day. Tyler Freeman, Will Brennan, Myles Straw, and Amed Rosario all added two hits apiece as well.
Eight balls put in play by the Guardians were hit over 100 mph today, led by Naylor’s (Josh, that is) 106.1 mph single in the third inning. Naylor (again, Josh) also had the second hardest Guardians hit at 104.4 mph — another single in the fourth. Naylor (believe it or not, this one’s Bo) may not have reached base, but he scorched a 101.8 mph groundout for his hardest-hit ball of the day.
On the mound, Tanner Bibee came out with a lights-out 1-2-3 first inning. So impressive was his first inning of work that the Chase Field lights flickered out and caused a 25-minute delay with two outs and two strikes on Corbin Carroll in the bottom of the first. Once everything was sorted, Bibee came out, threw a single pitch to strike out Carroll, and everyone went right back to the dugout and got to work blasting hard hits off Diamondbacks starter Zach Davies.
The beatdown was so severe that Arizona eventually turned to a position player, third baseman Josh Rojas, as their pitcher in the ninth inning. Cleveland’s 12 runs today ties their season-high, as they also put up a dozen against the Orioles on May 31, and the A’s on April 3.
Past that first inning, though, Bibee was hardly flawless today. He finished three walks, three earned runs, and seven hits, but he kept the confidence of his manager to stay in for 105 pitches and struck out six batters en route to the victory. It’s the kind of start he needed after a couple of poor outings, even if it showed he still has a lot to work on. His plan to remove his glasses, because — per Andre Knott during the broadcast — they were getting foggy and bugged him seems to have worked.
Knott also mentioned that the Guardians were working on changing Bibee’s release point a bit to help with consistency. Just for fun, because I find very lame things fun, I went back and grabbed his release point chart from all his starts. Here they are rapid fire so you can see where he has landed game-to-game.
It was noticeably higher and tighter (and slightly further away from his body) than his previous starts. So it’s likely they did work on something between his disastrous outing against the Padres last week and now. Whether or not it will make a huge difference remains to be seen, and are still some definite control and mechanical issues to work out, but he has the raw stuff to work through it more than most.
Cleveland has an off day tomorrow before returning home to face the Athletics and Brewers.