PITTSBURGH (AP) — Josh Naylor homered twice, including a three-run shot that keyed a five-run first inning against All-Star Mitch Keller, and drove in six runs and the Cleveland Guardians rolled to a 10-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Naylor’s first homer gave the Guardians a 4-0 lead with none out in the first inning after Keller had thrown just seven pitches. Keller was making his first appearance since pitching one inning in last week’s All-Star Game in Seattle.
“It’s good to set the tone,” Naylor said. “Our offense was great all day today.”
In the ninth, Naylor connected again for a two-run blast, his 15th of the season, off Yohan Ramirez. In 22 games since June 18, the 26-year-old Naylor is hitting .396 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 22 games and seems to be emerging as a star after going deep 20 times last season.
“I think we always hoped he’d be a middle-of-the-order bat,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “When you start to see it, it’s exciting.”
Steven Kwan led off the game with a double and scored on Amed Rosario’s single. After Jose Ramirez singled, Naylor hit his blast to right-center.
Myles Straw capped the first-inning outburst with an RBI single. The Guardians have won the first two games of the series by a combined score of 21-1 after being swept in three games at AL West-leading Texas over the weekend.
Rookie left-hander Logan Allen (4-2) pitched five scoreless innings of one-hit ball after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game. The lone hit was a one-out single in the fifth inning by Jared Triolo, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
“I was just attacking guys, trusting more of my stuff on the plate,” Allen said. “I was able to land some off-speed (pitches) and think that really helped because I started getting ahead of guys a little bit better. We got the big lead and I just wanted to get our guys back in the dugout to try to score some more runs.”
Allen struck out eight and walked one.
Keller (9-5) was tagged for eight runs and 10 hits in six innings.
“Every once in a while, something like that happens,” Francona said. “He didn’t get a chance to settle in. He’s good and he will continue to be good, and he stayed out there for a long time and sucked up some innings for them.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton agreed when he was asked if Keller got ambushed.
“Yeah, I think that’s a good word,” Shelton said. “They came out really aggressive and he didn’t come out extremely sharp and left some balls right in the middle of the plate, and they didn’t miss them.”
Josh Bell hit a two-run homer in the third, his 10th of the year. Naylor drove in another run with a ground out in the fourth to push the lead to 8-0.
Andres Gimenez had three of the Guardians’ 13 hits. Cleveland began the night in second place in the AL Central, 1 ½ games behind Minnesota.
Connor Joe’s solo homer in the sixth inning off Eli Morgan accounted for the Pirates’ lone run. Pittsburgh has lost five straight games since the All-Star break and is 2-12 in July.
TOP PICK SKENES SIGNS
Right-hander Paul Skenes, taken by Pittsburgh with the first pick in this month’s amateur draft, agreed Tuesday to a contract that includes a $9.2 million signing bonus.
The amount is the highest for a drafted player, topping the $8,416,300 Detroit agreed to with first baseman Spencer Torkelson, the top pick in 2021.
Skenes helped LSU to this year’s NCAA title after transferring from Air Force. He was selected Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series after going 12-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 19 starts with 209 strikeouts in 122 2/3 innings.
The Guardians optioned right-hander Cody Morris to Columbus as the corresponding move for Allen’s call up. Morris has made four relief appearances for Cleveland this season and allowed four runs in four innings.