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Guardians off to best start since 1999 thanks to sweep over A's

Jason Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh Naylor delivered a clutch, three-run double in the seventh inning as the Guardians continued their best start in 25 years with a 6-2 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

With the Guardians up 3-2, Naylor, who celebrated a two-run homer on Saturday by bashing the top of his helmet with his bat before rounding the bases, fell behind 0-2 in the count before doubling with the bases loaded off left-hander T.J. McFarland.

Naylor is batting .406 (13 of 32) with 14 RBIs in nine home games.

"He's something else right now," said Guardians first-year manager Stephen Vogt.

The surprising Guardians have won four straight, seven of eight and improved the AL's best record to 16-6. This is the club's best start since Cleveland had the same mark through 22 games in 1999.

Naylor has been a rowdy ringleader, with his passion impacting Cleveland's entire roster.

"It just gives energy to the other guys, right?" Vogt said. "When he gets going you can't help but smile and laugh and you get fired up with him. That's what he brings on top of being a great player and great teammate.

"He shows his personality and gets everybody fired up."

Vogt joked that he's no longer watching when Naylor comes up big.

"I've started to look away after that stuff happens, just so I don't see it," he cracked.

Cleveland starter Tanner Bibee (2-0) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up a two-out RBI single in the sixth before Vogt dipped into his bullpen, which came in with a 2.19 ERA.

Tim Herrin, Nick Sandlin, Cade Smith and closer Emmanuel Clase held the A's scoreless over the final 3 1/3 innings.

Will Brennan homered for the Guardians, who finished off the A's while All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez got a day off.

Oakland has lost seven straight games in Cleveland and the A's have gone 3-17 against the Guardians in the past three years.

The way the Guardians are playing right now, there's little margin for error. A's manager Mark Kotsay bemoaned chances his team missed.

"That's what really good teams do," he said. "They capitalize on mistakes. From a hitting standpoint, you make mistakes and they end up taking advantage of it. They put the ball in play. They don't strike out a ton. And that’s where we really battled today with getting ahead of guys and just not being able to finish."

Brennan's homer in the second came off Ross Stripling (0-5), who is 0-10 over the last two seasons with Oakland and San Francisco. He's the first A's pitcher to lose his first five starts since Mike Morris dropped six straight in 1979.

Stripling was solid, allowing three runs and five hits in five innings.

"He just couldn't finish," Kotsay said. "We played good defense overall. They found holes. He still gave us an opportunity to be in the game, be competitive. Back-to-back days at 3-2 in the seventh and we let it get away from us."

Brent Rooker homered for the A's.

Brennan, who hit a pinch-hit homer in Boston earlier this week, connected with one out in the second — just the 13th homer allowed by Oakland's staff this season. The A's gave up a team record 213 homers in 2023.


Athletics: Oakland has nine players on the injured list. The A's have had at least eight players on the IL since June 16, 2023.

Guardians: RHP Gavin Williams (elbow) flew to Cleveland after pitching three innings in Arizona on Saturday. He'll be checked by the team's medical and training staffs before making the next step in his return. Williams got hurt while throwing a weighted ball in training camp and essentially had to restart his pitching program.


Athletics: Open a four-game series at Yankee Stadium with JP Sears (1-1, 4.35 ERA) facing LHP Carlos Rodón.

Guardians: Following an off day, start a three-game series against Boston with RHP Ben Lively (0-1, 3.60) pitching the opener against RHP Tanner Houck (3-1, 1.35), who blanked Cleveland on three hits last week at Fenway Park.