J-Ram hangs tough, homers in Game 1 loss

July 1st, 2021

CLEVELAND -- The Indians can’t afford the most minor of injuries right now, let alone one to their All-Star third baseman, José Ramírez. Although the team came close to disaster on Wednesday night, it seemed to finally dodge a bullet for once.

Ramírez hopped into the left-handed batter’s box against Tigers righty Kyle Funkhouser in the fifth inning of the Indians’ 9-4 loss in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader at Progressive Field. He fouled the fifth pitch of the at-bat off the left side of his face and dropped to the ground. He was later pulled from the game with a left facial contusion and was taken to a local hospital to get evaluated.

“He started to swell. We brought him in here and did [a scan], but just to be on the safe side, they’re gonna take him over to Lutheran [Hospital] just to get him looked at,” manager Terry Francona said. “I mean, I think everybody thinks he’s fine, just nothing to mess around with when you get up in your face and your head. So they’re gonna get him checked really good.”

Cleveland’s medical staff has become all too familiar with the quick sprints out of the dugout. They did so again to meet Ramírez on the ground, using a towel to stop the minor bleeding and investigating his mouth and jaw to make sure everything looked OK. Just when it seemed like it would be impossible for Ramírez to get himself straightened back out to stay in the game, he reached for his helmet and put it on his head as the crowd who waited out a 2:29 rain delay erupted in cheers.

Ramírez, who opened the scoring with his 18th homer in the first inning, fouled off the next pitch he saw before ultimately grounding out to end the inning. He stayed out on the field and waited for a teammate to meet him at the hot corner with his hat and glove, leaving no opportunity for the team to pull him from the game until he was eventually lifted for defensive replacement Owen Miller in the top of the seventh.

Cleveland is finally nearing a return for slugger Franmil Reyes (possibly on Saturday), but Roberto Pérez, Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Jordan Luplow, Josh Naylor and Cam Hill all remain on the injured list, leaving no wiggle room for the Indians to add another starter to that list. As Ramírez went down, the Double-A Akron Rubberducks Twitter account was simultaneously posting that Pérez had left his rehab game as a precaution with a right hand contusion.

“Yeah, he’s OK,” Francona said of Pérez. “I think he got crossed up. I think it kind of scared him more than anything. But he’s fine.”