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Naquin hits game-ending inside-the-park HR, Indians top Jays

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CLEVELAND — Tyler Naquin hit a game-ending inside-the-park homer, sprinting around the bases to cap a two-run rally in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians stunned the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Friday night.

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 & Info said.

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

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 stumbled home and scored with a head-first dive way ahead of second baseman Devon Travis‘ relay.

The Indians poured from the dugout to mob Naquin. On Thursday night, Naquin lofted a sacrifice fly as a pinch-hitter in the ninth to lift Cleveland over the White Sox.

Jeff Manship (2-1) pitched the ninth. Trevor Bauer struck out a career-high 13 in eight innings

Osuna blew his third save in 30 chances. Russell Martin hit a two-run homer in the first for Toronto.

The win increased Cleveland’s lead in the AL Central over Detroit to seven games. Toronto’s lead over Boston in the AL East was cut to a half-game.

Mike Napoli hit an RBI single in the sixth for Cleveland.

Toronto played without third baseman Josh Donaldson (jammed right thumb) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (sore calf).

Michael Saunders drew a one-out walk in the first. Bauer retired Edwin Encarnacion, but Martin homered.

The crowd of 30,665 featured several thousand Blue Jays fans who matched cheers and chants with Indians fans throughout the game.

THE CHAMP IS HERE

Until the wild finish, the biggest cheer of the night went to LeBron James, who watched the game from a suite. James led the Cavaliers past Golden State in the NBA Finals, Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years.

ROSTER NEWS

The Indians called up RHP Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Columbus and optioned left-hander Kyle Crockett to the same club. The Blue Jays optioned outfielder Darrell Ceciliani to Triple-A Buffalo.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: Manager John Gibbons expects Donaldson and Tulowitzki to be available Saturday.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez will start for the first time since Aug. 13 as the team attempts to limit his innings.

Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin returns from the family medical emergency list. He flew home to Tyler, Texas, on Wednesday.

Aaron Hicks would like to avoid Tommy John surgery

Aaron Hicks
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The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.

One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.

Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.

Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.