Cleveland Guardians Success Thanks to Feeling at Home on the Road

The Cleveland Guardians have been road warriors this season, which is a big reason for their great success atop the AL Central standings.

Josh Naylor and Bo Naylor of the Cleveland Guardians celebrate the team's 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Progressive Field.
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 22: Josh Naylor #22 and Bo Naylor #23 of the Cleveland Guardians celebrate the team's 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Progressive Field on July 22, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

DENVER, Colo. — No team in Major League Baseball has more wins on the road this season than the Cleveland Guardians.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seen them anywhere outside of Progressive Field over the last decade. 

Since the start of 2015, the Guardians have the third-best road record in the game. Every season except last over the past nine campaigns, Cleveland has been at least within one win of .500 or better away from home. 

A record of 76-86 in 2023 was the club’s worst in over a decade in large part to a 34-47 performance during their away games.

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In 2024 though, it’s back to being road warriors.

First-year manager Stephen Vogt has experienced only this season, but he knows quite well the ingredients of their secret sauce.

“They’re resilient. They fight,” Vogt said Tuesday night. “Every time (the Rockies) scored, we responded. It’s just so impressive how many times they’ve gone out and done that. We don’t ever want to quit.”

The Guardians were back with a vengeance during the 13-7 win over the Colorado Rockies just one day after an 8-6 loss on Memorial Day to snap their nine-game win streak.

True to form, when Colorado tied it at 2-2, Cleveland immediately scored two in the top of the next frame. After Tim Herrin (0.82 ERA entering the game) struggled to get out of Nick Sandlin’s jam in the sixth and the score was knotted at 7-7, David Fry lifted a three-run home run in the seventh to get back each run the bullpen had just surrendered. 

The season-high 13 runs gave the team win no. 19 on the road. Cleveland ended the day with a 37-18 (.673) record, best in the American League.

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For such a young and inexperienced team lacking the frequent flyer miles of some more veteran rosters, they’ve looked comfortable everywhere they’ve played this season. Especially in Denver. Not bad considering many were making their Coors Field debut.

One player who’s very much felt at home this week is Will Brennan.

Drafted in the 8th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Kansas State, Brennan spent the first five years of his life in the Centennial State after being born in Colorado Springs.

He came off the bench on Memorial Day and got the start in right field in game two.

“This is the first place that I watched a game in the big leagues,” he said of Coors Field. “It’s cool. It’s awesome to play here.”

While he moved to Kansas early in life, Brennan still spent a lot of time in the Springs. His father, Dan, worked for USA Hockey before being named the first general manager of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team in 2006.

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His grandfather is also part of sporting royalty in Colorado Springs. Reggie Minton served as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Air Force Academy from 1984-2000, the longest tenured coach in their history.

After years of traveling to Cleveland to watch him play, all will be in attendance to see Brennan for the first time at 20th and Blake St. 

During the Guardians 18th victory of the month on Tuesday, Brennan went 1-for-4 with a walk and stolen base. As a left-handed hitting specialist that performs better against righties, he’ll begin Wednesday’s contest on the bench with fellow Colorado native and left-hander starter Ty Blach on the bump for the Rockies.

Brotherly Love

Another factor in helping some feel more at home: seeing your brother every day.

Josh and Bo Naylor represent one of two active pairs of brothers on the same team, joining Taylor and Tyler Rogers of the San Francisco Giants.

In 2022, the two became the first set of brothers to play in the same Cleveland roster since the Alomars (Roberto and Sandy Jr.) in 2000.

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Bo’s second game in the Majors on Oct. 2 of that year brought even more history. He batted fifth behind Josh to become the first set of brothers to hit consecutively for the franchise since 1930 (Joe and Luke Sewell).

Earlier this season, the two became the sixth pair of brothers to homer in the same inning since 1900. And they did so on National Siblings Day, naturally. This also made them just the third pair of brothers since 1961 to have game-tying and game-winning RBI in the 9th inning or later of a game, joining Cal Jr. and Billy Ripken (9/7/1998) and Justin and B.J. Upton (4/6/2013).

While Bo was quiet at the plate on Tuesday with an 0-for-4 performance that included a sacrifice fly RBI, Josh made a lot of noise. He snapped an 0-for-17 streak with a fifth-inning homer, followed by an eighth-inning home run to give him the third multi-homer performance of his career.

J-Ram Show Continues

José Ramírez recorded his 16th home run of the season in his first plate appearance and raised his RBI total to 56 through Cleveland’s first 55 games.

The long ball was the seventh in his last 11 games. Ramírez also has an RBI in seven consecutive games, the longest streak of his career.

It also make the eighth time recording two extra-base hits and two walks in the same game, tying him for the second-most in franchise history with Manny Ramírez, Jim Thome and Carlos Santana. Only Hall of Famer Tris Speaker (11) has done it more times.

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Ramírez, in the midst of a yet another outstanding season, had an admirer in Rockies’ Elehuris Montero, who also homered in this game. 

“He changes the game a lot every night,” Montero said. “It’s hard to get a win against them because of what he does on a nightly basis. But I’m very also proud of being on the opposite side of him playing on the same field as him and what he’s doing and what he’s doing as a Dominican.”

Affected By Altitude

Many players reach the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and suffer from the effects of playing at altitude. 

For Brennan, he’s been fine during his time in the Mile High City. A study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 2022 found that natives of high altitude are able to maintain more oxygen in their blood during exercise than their peers at sea level. 

His teammates, not so fortunate. 

“A lot of guys are hitting the oxygen tank,” Brennan said of his first 24 hours in Denver. “I don’t know if it’s a joke or because they need it. A lot of people are hitting it.”

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