'We're here': Tribe puts up 10 runs in seventh
CLEVELAND -- After Franmil Reyes hit the deciding two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Reds on Tuesday, he was asked whether one hit can spark a domino effect for the offense going forward. The slugger promptly responded, “Of course!” Though the team had to wait a few days, it may have finally started to watch some dominoes fall.
José Ramírez set the tone on Thursday, going 3-for-5 with two homers, a triple, four RBIs and four runs scored, while Cleveland broke the game open with a 10-run seventh inning in a 13-0 victory over Cincinnati at Progressive Field. The Indians' third consecutive win assured that the Ohio Cup would remain in Northeast Ohio and Ramírez’s performance earned him his second Ohio Cup Most Outstanding Player Award in three years. Since the start of 2015, the Tribe has taken 21 of 28 games against the Reds.
“I’m proud of the guys’ approach,” Sandy Alomar Jr., who’s managing in place of Terry Francona, said. “It was good. Make them throw a lot of pitches. … They keep working their at-bats. That’s very important, going the other way and taking what the pitcher is giving them. That’s how you get out of slumps.”
Cleveland's offense has been desperately waiting to have a breakout night, after sporting the lowest collective batting average in the Majors (.181) entering Thursday. It was just the second time the Indians have eclipsed 10 hits in a game this year and their 13 runs were more than they had scored in their last eight games combined (12). Those 12 runs were scored over their previous 76 innings, while they plated 10 in just the seventh inning alone. It was the Tribe's first 10-run inning since Sept. 28, 2018, at Kansas City.
“It’s a good reinforcement to get that with the media and the comments that people were saying about the Indians having no hitting,” Ramírez said through team interpreter Agustin Rivero. “So it’s a reminder that we’re here, that we can produce and we’re going to be producing for the rest of the season.”
Throughout Cleveland's slump, Ramírez has remained as consistent as possible. He was the lone hot hitter in the Tribe’s lineup to start the year, batting .429 with a 1.244 OPS in his first eight games. But when the rest of the team failed to match his offensive output, he fell into an 0-for-15 skid. Now that he’s catching his second wind, the Indians’ bats seem to be starting to follow his lead.
In the seventh-inning explosion, Ramírez tacked on his second home run of the evening, accounting for his 14th career multihomer performance. And for the sixth time in his career (and second this season), he launched a long ball from each side of the plate, setting a franchise record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He joined Joe Carter (1988), Rico Carty ('77) and Larry Doby ('55) as the last four Indians hitters to have two homers and a triple in the same game.
“Without a doubt, I know those things [were] going to happen,” Ramírez said of the offensive outburst. “We have a great group of guys. Established MLB hitters. So I know it’s going to happen, so I’m really happy for them to happen. But I knew we had the talent [and] the possibility to hit this way.”
While the bats have been silent, Cleveland’s starting pitching continued to roar, turning in 12 quality starts in its first 14 games. Carlos Carrasco prolonged that trend with six scoreless frames against the Reds, allowing one hit with eight strikeouts and four walks. While the starters haven’t always received the run support they’ve needed to back their strong performances, the team is hoping that Thursday will mark a new beginning for its offense.
“I mean [Carrasco] did a terrific job,” Ramírez said. “But I think it’s just like as well as the other pitchers. They have done a tremendous job throwing the ball. For us as hitters, it’s good to know that they’re going to be doing a good job, so we know as long as we do our job, we’re going to help them do their job a lot better.”