Inside-the-park homer lifts Indians over Blue Jays

Associated Press


Once his long drive caromed into no man’s land, Tyler Naquin kept going. And going. And going.

Naquin sprinted around the bases, stumbled toward home plate and scored with a head-first dive.

Then he was mobbed by his Cleveland teammates — they all wanted to celebrate a game-winning inside-the-park home run in the ninth inning.

Even by walk-off standards, the Indians’ 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night was a stunner.

“That was a pretty cool moment,” Naquin said. “I almost fell down there for a second. I wanted to just keep running.”

Naquin’s mad dash capped a two-run rally. Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth in a matchup of AL division leaders.

Closer Roberto Osuna (2-2) retired the first batter, but Jose Ramirez tied it with a home run.

Naquin followed with a fly that hit the top of the right-field wall, above the leap of Michael Saunders. The ball bounced away at an angle and center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. gave chase as Naquin rounded second.

Upton finally retrieved the ball, but fell down as third base coach Mike Sarbaugh waved Naquin home. Upton flung it toward the infield, and Naquin reached the plate way ahead of second baseman Devon Travis’ relay.

“I was just thinking after I hit it, I took a couple steps out of the box and just pictured it kicking off the wall,” Naquin said.

“I thought, ‘I have a chance to score if it kicks far enough.’ And sure enough, it did.”

On Thursday night, the rookie lofted a sacrifice fly as a pinch-hitter in the ninth to lift Cleveland over the White Sox.

“I’d actually like to win by five or 10 so we don’t have to do that,” Naquin said.

This was only the second time — and first since 1916 by Braggo Roth — the Indians ended a win with an inside-the-park home run, ESPN Stats and Info said.

Jeff Manship (2-1) pitched the ninth. Osuna blew his third save in 30 chances.

Trevor Bauer struck out a career-high 13 in eight innings.

Russell Martin hit a two-run homer in the first for Toronto.