Straw’s hot July continues with impact in all facets

38 minutes ago

BOSTON — After he was acquired by the Guardians at the 2021 Trade Deadline, Myles Straw made an immediate impact on his new team. The center fielder slashed .285/.362/.377 over 60 games with Cleveland — a sample size that proved to be enough for both sides to agree to a five-year, $25 million contract extension in April of 2022.

Fast-forward three months and Straw’s average dropped to a season low of .193 on July 4. Since that 76th game of this season, he has found his stride, hitting .323 with five doubles, one triple and seven RBIs in his last 18 games. His latest RBI came on Wednesday night in the form of a clutch eighth-inning game-tying double in the Guardians’ 7-6 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“He’s a phenomenal player,” said Josh Naylor, who hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth. “I’m glad he’s on our side, I’m glad we have an athlete like him on our team and a leader and just a great player in general. We all learn from him, and everyone kind of goes through those ups and downs. We never give up on that guy.”

Straw went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, driving in the Guardians’ third run of the second inning with an RBI double off Nathan Eovaldi to score rookie Nolan Jones. His first RBI double of the night came on the fifth pitch of the at-bat with a 2-2 count.

When Straw came to Cleveland in 2021, he became the team’s primary leadoff man with 55 games atop the lineup. Amid his major slump this season, Straw was moved to the No. 9 spot, with rookie Steven Kwan taking over leadoff duties. Early returns on the lineup shift seem to be a perfect fit, with both Kwan and Straw excelling out of their respective spots.

“[The] guy is always on base or always creating some havoc,” Kwan said on Tuesday of Straw. “He’s always a run threat, so it’s nice to kind of have the pitcher not totally focusing on me, you know, sidestepping, picking over is a big thing. And then whenever I’m on base, it’s always kind of comforting to know that Amed [Rosario] is gonna come through with that. So yeah, we can get the line moving and good things will happen.”

Kwan, who’s been on a tear of his own, went 1-for-5 with an RBI double in the fourth on Wednesday. In his past seven games, the rookie is hitting .412 (14-for-34) with one homer and five RBIs. Bookending the batting order, both Kwan and Straw have been feeding off each other’s success at the plate.

“Hitting him where he is now gives us almost a second leadoff-type hitter,” manager Terry Francona said of Straw. “And when he’s on and Kwan’s up it gives us a really good look. You got speed … it’s the way we play. It allows us to play that way more often.”

“He’s a game-changer and we need him in our lineup every day,” Naylor said. “We need him on the field every day. He’s a Gold Glover, incredible hitter and it’s starting to come together just kind of at the right time.”

Naylor has been another force for a club fighting to keep itself in the AL Wild Card race. Wednesday’s go-ahead homer was Naylor’s sixth such dinger of the season, tied for the most on the team with Andr?s Gim?nez and Jos? Ram?rez. After a back-and-forth game which saw the Guardians relinquish their lead in the 6th, Straw’s double and Naylor’s 14th homer overall demonstrated the team’s fight.

“I mean, we’re facing a good ballclub,” Naylor said, “things can go either way and they kind of got us early in the game with a few clutch hits. And Bobby [Dalbec] was swinging it well today, credit to him. We don’t give up here, we just fight to the end and we just try to encourage each other throughout the whole game and hopefully come out with a win.”

After Straw tied the game and Naylor gave the Guardians their lead, it was Straw who secured the final out of the game. A deep drive to center by Rob Refsnyder looked like it had the oomph to carry out of the park, but Straw timed his run perfectly to end the game. Did Francona know Straw had the play?

“I was hoping,” the manager said.