Dead silence. You could hear a pin drop in the Rogers Centre Friday night as the Guardians dominated the Toronto Blue Jays in every aspect of the game. They scored eight runs, pitched a shutout, and held the Jays to just two hits on the night.
When all was said and done, the Guardiac Kids picked up their sixth consecutive victory and fourth over Toronto this season.
Guardians (60-52) 8 – Blue Jays (60-51) 0. WP: Cal Quantrill (9-5), LP: José Berríos (8-5)
With the trip to Canada, that brought multiple homecomings for players on the Guardians roster. Two in particular, ended up having huge games.
The first was Josh Naylor. Naylor, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, grew up just less than an hour from Toronto. He spent his childhood like many Canadian baseball players, going to watch either the Toronto Blue Jays or Montreal Expos while they were still around.
Anytime you play in/near your hometown, it’s a special occasion not only for you, but for your family as well. In the case of Naylor and Cal Quantrill, it’s playing in your home country.
“You’d like to think guys use it to their advantage and hope that’s the case,” Terry Francona explained. “But him and Cal looked really good, and it must’ve been very special for their families.”
For Naylor, his big moment came in what ended being a five run third inning for the Guardians.
In what has started to become a pattern with his home runs, Naylor swung at the first pitch and sent it 362 feet to left field into the Toronto bullpen. His 15th home run of the season, nearly doubling his previous best for homers in a season.
Naylor also picked up a single in the fourth inning, the eighth and final hit that Toronto starter José Berríos allowed as he was replaced the next inning.
For Naylor, it was a great experience being back, but picking up a big win over an opponent they’re fighting with in a now realized playoff race, was just as big.
“We just have a goal as a team to win and we have each other’s backs,” Naylor said. “In the end, we try to contribute to each other and want to have fun out there and enjoy the moment.”
Quantrill feels right at home. Literally
Just like Naylor, Cal Quantrill also grew up in Ontario, but in the small town of Port Hope, about 70 minutes outside of the Toronto metro area. For Quantrill, it was pitching in a place where he fell in love with the game of baseball.
“This is a fun place,” Quantrill said. “I’ve spent a lot of time here with my dad. I’ve watched a lot of baseball here. Cheered for the Blue Jays my whole life. It’s a fun place to be.”
Six days prior, Quantrill had pitched six shutout innings against the Houston Astros. Somehow, he was able to do even better than that this time around against arguably an ever-better lineup.
Quantrill faced the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman and Alejandro Kirk. How many hits did Quantrill allow? One. How many runs did he allow? Zero. He shut down one of the best lineups in baseball in arguably the best start of his entire career.
“He was so good tonight,” Francona praised. “That is a really good lineup he faced. He established a good fastball. It’s nice when you’re in the middle of August and a guy looks like his last pitch is as good as his first.”
Quantrill threw 98 pitches on the night and went to his sinker and cutter. A lot. 82 of the 98 times to be exact. He wanted to establish his fastball, his sinker, early and often and did just that. His velocity was up on all his pitches.
There was one thing thing that stood however. His spin rate. His yearly average for the spin rate on his Sinker is 2061 rotations per minute. Friday, it was 2216, 134 more rotations per minute. His Cutter had 134 more rotations per minute.
Quantrill got seven Blue Jays to strikeout during his seven-inning outing, getting Kirk and Bichette twice each.
To Quantrill’s teammates, his pitching and confidence he exudes on the mound is something they’re starting to feel.
“I’ve seen him throughout the minors together and the dominance, the confidence he shows, we kind of feed of it,” Naylor praised.
Quantrill’s performance is yet another in a near weeks’ worth of tremendous outings from the Guardians starting pitchers. Dating back to their 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros on August 7, Cleveland’s starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 0.71 in 38.2 innings pitched. That’s three runs allowed total.
It’s a sign of a good team when you can win ballgames in three different aspects of it.
“I feel like there’s sections of this season where a different group has stepped up,” Quantrill explained. “Our bullpen has carried us for a long time. Our hitters have been consistent and have given us runs. It felt like it was time for us (The starters) to step up and do well. It’s about passing the torch.”
Hip Hip José!
It had been a struggle, if you could really say that, for José Ramírez over the past week. His thumb injury has caused him discomfort at times during the season. His pop fly rate was up a lot.
There was no signs of that Friday as Ramírez put together one of his vintage performances, showing people why he’s one of if not the best third baseman in baseball.
José picked up a sac fly in the five run third inning to give the Guardians a 3-0 lead. However, Mr. Lapara came through big time in the fourth. With Will Benson and Steven Kwan both on base, Ramírez saw changeup and swung and sent it 396 feet to right center field, into the Guardians bullpen. The second bullpen shot of the night for the Guardians.
“We got a couple long balls today, and we haven’t really done a lot of that,” Francona said. “It’s a good thing because that’s a very good lineup we’re facing.”
That home run was RBI number 90, 91 and 92 on the season. With that, he leaps Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals for third in the majors in RBI and second in the American League. He picked up a single in the 8th inning to give him a final stat line of 3-4 with a home run and four RBI.
Something about Berríos
The Guardians have seen a lot of José Berríos over the past five or six seasons. As a member of the Minnesota Twins from 2016-2021, Cleveland faced Berríos 15 times, and it was always an even fight. However, when you face someone that many times, you’re bound to learn a thing or two about how he throws.
Well, Berríos has faced the Guardians twice this season as a member of the Blue Jays. In those starts, he’s given up 14 runs in 8.2 innings pitched and three home runs. Runs and home runs, something that Berríos has given up a lot of this season. That’s an ERA of 15.37 against Cleveland.
Along with Ramírez and Naylor, Amed Rosario picked up a two-run single off of him as well as two hits, Will Benson and Steven Kwan picked up a hit against him as well while Andrés Giménez was hit by a pitch from Berríos.
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