Guardians find solution to woes with White Sox in walk-off win

2:30 AM UTC

CLEVELAND – It’s safe to say that the White Sox are probably tired of Bo Naylor.

Nearly three months after Naylor walked-off the White Sox in the Guardians’ first homestand of the season, the catcher once again played hero Tuesday with a walk-off sacrifice fly in Cleveland’s 7-6 win at Progressive Field.

Naylor’s sacrifice fly ended a wild ninth inning for the Guardians on a night that featured plenty of twists and turns.

It started with Andrés Giménez, who fouled off pitch after pitch from White Sox closer Michael Kopech before lining a leadoff single up the middle to reach first.

After advancing to second base on a groundout by Tyler Freeman, Naylor reached third when Kopech inexplicably spiked a pitch into the ground. After throwing the pitch, Kopech was visited by the trainer, which resulted in Naylor standing alone by home plate while seemingly all of the 25,654 in attendance chanted his name.

“In that situation, regardless of what’s happening around you, you just need to be simple, be short and make a good swing on a good pitch,” Naylor said. “I tried to have as little thoughts as possible and just kind of let the game play out.”

Naylor ended up lofting a ball 309 feet to center field that Luis Robert Jr. got under and caught but never made a throw home on, which allowed for Giménez to jog home with the winning run.

“For Bo to come up big in a spot like that, it just proves how great of a hitter he is,” manager Stephen Vogt said.

Naylor’s walk-off came on a day when the Guardians’ bullpen had a rare misstep, as the usually unflappable Cade Smith and Hunter Gaddis surrendered three runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at six and let the White Sox back into the game.

Smith entered the game in the seventh inning and allowed a run on three straight hits after recording the first out of the inning before he was relieved by Gaddis, who allowed a key two-out, two run single to Robert.

“The boys picked each other up tonight; those nights happen,” Vogt said. “They haven’t happened often, so when it does happen, it’s kind of like, ‘What’s going on?’”

Prior to the game, Vogt mused about how the Guardians have struggled against the White Sox this season — Cleveland’s four losses to the club account for 16% of Chicago’s wins on the year — and said the best way for his team to beat the White Sox was to get to their starter.

Daniel Schneemann made sure that was the case early when he clubbed a 408-foot home run off White Sox starter Chris Flexen in the third inning, which gave Cleveland its first lead.

Flexen ran into trouble early in the inning when he allowed a leadoff walk to No. 8 hitter Austin Hedges, who entered play with an OPS+ of 24. While Flexen was able to get Brayan Rocchio and Steven Kwan to ground out, catcher Korey Lee still knew that Schneemann could cause damage — so much so that he went out to visit Flexen on the mound prior to the at-bat.

For about a minute, Schneemann stood alone in the batter’s box while “Money Made Me Do It” by Post Malone (Schneemann’s walk-up song) blared over Progressive Field’s speakers. Four pitches later, Schneemann sent a fastball into the right-field bleachers.

“I knew I had José [Ramírez] behind me, so I figured I was going to get something to hit,” Schneemann said.

While Schneemann has cooled off since his torrid start (he entered Tuesday hitting .182 over his last 11 games), he has still boasted a hard-hit rate of 50 percent to go along with an xwOBA of .345 and a stellar 14.5 walk rate. So even though his numbers didn’t have the same shimmer as when he hit .375 over his first 10 games, Tuesday’s home run is a tangible example of the kind of damage he’s capable of doing.

After the game, Vogt said that he knew Schneemann’s home run was gone when it left the bat, so he looked away and didn’t see how far it landed, which meant he got a pleasant surprise later in the game when he re-watched the home run.

“He’s been a professional at-bat,” Vogt said.