Cleveland Guardians teammates Cal Quantrill and Josh Naylor demonstrated you can go home again and thrive.
The fellow Canadians were at their best in an 8-0 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays before 41,677 at Rogers Centre on Friday.
Quantrill (9-5), a native of Port Hope, Ont., pitched seven innings, allowing only a double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to snatch his first MLB win on home soil and a career-high ninth victory on the season.
Naylor, a Mississauga, Ont., native, gave his teammate a lift with a two-run blast to left field as part of a five-run third inning for his 15th of the season and first in his home and native land.
“There were a lot of people I owe my career to at the game today,” Quantrill said. “It’s fun to pitch well in front of those guys.”
The 27-year-old Quantrill, son of former Blue Jays pitcher Paul Quantrill, estimated he had 25 to 30 people attending the game. Naylor had closer to 100 family and friends in the seats.
“I just wanted to show my gratitude and just thank everyone for being here for me,” said the 25-year-old Naylor, who added that three of his former teachers were at the game.
The two have been teammates at various levels, dating back a decade ago when they were members of the 2012 Canadian junior team. So they were pleased as punch with their performance in the opener of the three-game series against the Blue Jays (60-51).
“I’m so happy for him,” Quantrill said of Naylor’s homer. “It’s just awesome to see him having the year he’s having.”
The American League Central Division-leading Guardians (60-52) have won eight in a row, and the last seven starts from Quantrill.
“It’s kind of what we thought we were capable of,” Quantrill said. “I think that we’re here to stay. I don’t think it’s a fluke. We know how to win baseball games, and we’re kind of a complete baseball team.”
“It’s awesome,” Naylor added about winning in Toronto. “This is where we kind of grew up playing baseball. We decided on our paths here in Canada, and we stuck with it.”
Quantrill retired the first 10 batters. Guerrero then extended his hit streak to 21 games with a one-out double down the right-field line in the fourth inning.
After that hiccup, Quantrill retired the next 11 Blue Jays before giving way to the Guardians bullpen.
“We were behind in counts a lot,” Toronto interim manager John Schneider said.
“He kept us off balance with his sinker and cutter and dropped in a curveball and change-ups. He was on his game, and you got to tip your hat to him.”
Nobody could tip their hat to Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios (8-5). He had only one strikeout, yielding a season-high eight runs on eight hits, walking two and hitting two Cleveland batters.
After the five-run third inning, Jose Ramirez hit a low pitch for a three-run blast in the fourth inning for an eight-run advantage. It was Ramirez’s 25th homer of the season.
“I don’t feel too happy right now with my last two starts,” said Berrios, who lost 6-5 in Minnesota after giving up five runs in 3⅔ innings against the Twins last Friday.
Springer, Stripling Updates
George Springer (right elbow) hit from a tee on Thursday and was scheduled to begin light throwing on Friday. He’s not eligible to come off the 10-day injured list until Monday.
Toronto righty Ross Stripling tossed five shutout innings, allowing only three hits in his rehab start with Triple-A Buffalo for a 3-1 win against Syracuse. Stripling could return to the Blue Jays next week.
Blue Jays newcomer Mitch White (1-3) will face Guardians starter Triston McKenzie (8-8) in the second game of the series on Saturday.
Toronto’s Kevin Gausman (8-8) takes on Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (7-6) in the series finale on Sunday.