CHICAGO — Cleveland Guardians' slugger Josh Naylor became the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a grand slam and a 3-run home run after the 8th inning in Monday night's improbable 12-9 comeback win against the White Sox.
All eight of his RBIs came from the 8th inning on, which also set a MLB record. Not bad for a sport that started 11 years after the Civil War ended.
However Naylor's heroics didn't begin in the 8th inning of Monday night's win, they started in the stands earlier at Guaranteed Rate Field.
A young Guardians fan sitting near the nettings on the first base side of the lower deck of seats caught the attention of Naylor. And if getting a signed ball from a Major League Baseball player wasn't exciting enough, Naylor had the young fan sign his name on the glove that would ultimately save the game-winning run from scoring in the bottom of the 9th inning.
If there is such thing as good karma, Naylor's performance after the kind act makes a lot of sense.
As the game shifted to the top of the 9th, the Guardians trailed the White Sox 8-2. Andrés Giménez smacked an opposite field home run off of Sox reliever Tanner Banks. The Guardians dugout came alive and the White Sox defenders fell asleep.
Shortstop Tim Anderson and third baseman Yoan Moncada committed errors on consecutive plays that allowed the Guardians to get within four. With Austin Hedges on base, Steven Kwan and Owen Miller reached to load up the bases for Naylor, who had notched his first RBI of the game in the previous inning.
That's when the magic truly started as Naylor launched his grand slam.
The Guardians took the tie into the bottom of the 9th where they found themselves in their own bases loaded pickle with 2 outs. Again, Naylor played a hand in extending the game when he and Jose Ramirez combined on an incredible defensive effort for out number three.
The teams would match each other with a run each in the 10th inning, setting up Naylor with another opportunity to play the hero with his three-run blast in the 11th inning.
With one swing in the top of the 11th, Naylor earned his way into the history books and capped off, arguably, one of the most improbable comeback wins for the franchise since August 5, 2001 when Cleveland erased a 12-run deficit against the Seattle Mariners.
Naylor rounded the bases after his 9th inning grand slam almost business-like before shushing the crowd as he headed back to the dugout.
The 3-run bomb in the 11th ignited a fire in him as he erupted with his teammates.
Warning: The below video contains explicit language
Whether this win is a turning point for the season or an identity-making moment for a young team desperately trying to figure out who they are remains to be seen.
On Monday May 9, 2022, Josh Naylor welcomed the smoke. When the smoke settles on October 5, 2022, the last day of the regular season, what role will May 9 play in where the team stands?