J-Ram hits a slam after not 1, not 2, but 10(!) pitches

April 25th, 2024

CLEVELAND -- There’s rarely any concern about ’s bat when it goes a little quieter than usual for a couple days, but just in case any questions were starting to arise, he made sure to erase them all in dramatic fashion on Thursday.

With the bases loaded in the second inning, Ramírez won a 10-pitch battle against Boston opener Chase Anderson by smacking a 384-foot grand slam that ended up being the difference in the Guardians’ 6-4 victory over the Red Sox at Progressive Field.

“First of all, Austin Hedges called [the grand slam],” Guardians starter Triston McKenzie said with a laugh. “I think you're always expecting [Ramírez] to do great things, but when it actually happens, you're overjoyed for him and for the team.”

Finally, Ramírez had been rewarded for some quality contact against the Red Sox. This was the seventh meeting between the two clubs this year. In the first six, he put 12 hard-hit balls (at least 95 mph) in play but was just 5-for-23 (.217) overall with one homer. After a first-inning single on Thursday, Ramírez got ahead in his second plate appearance, 3-0. He took a cutter and swung through another to get to 3-2. Then, he fouled off four cutters in a row. The fifth cutter, though? That jumped off Ramírez’s bat at 107.8 mph for his sixth career grand slam.

“Somebody like Josey’s obviously getting educated with each pitch,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “He kept using the cutter, kept using the cutter and then he got one in the nitro zone and didn't miss it. So unbelievable at-bat by him.”

Ramírez is now in a tie for sixth place on Cleveland’s grand slam leaderboard. Manny Ramirez sits at the top with 13, Travis Hafner has 12 and Al Rosen hit nine, Albert Belle and Jim Thome each have seven and Ramírez is tied with Andre Thornton and Rocky Colavito with six. The blast also marked Ramírez’s 1,353rd hit, which tied Thome for 12th place on Cleveland’s all-time hits list. Ramírez singled in the seventh to take sole possession of 12th.

A grand slam is always impressive, but what about a homer after seeing at least 10 pitches? According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, Thursday’s long ball was Ramírez’s fourth homer in a 10-plus-pitch plate appearance. Only one other Cleveland player has more than one such homer since pitch counts have been tracked (since 1988): Casey Blake with two.

Across the Majors, just three players have more than four homers in plate appearances of at least 10 pitches since ‘88: Todd Helton (eight), Paul Konerko (seven) and Paul Goldschmidt (six).

“I feel like the only advantage you can get [in a long at-bat] is you get to see the pitch that the pitcher fully trusts the most,” Ramírez said through team interpreter Agustin Rivero. “You can focus on trying to execute [against] that pitch.”

That one swing of the bat was the moment of the game. It was the reason the Guardians were able to avoid losing just their second series of the season. But that wasn’t the only time Ramírez stole the spotlight. After his seventh-inning single, Ramírez stole second base and ended up on third after a bad throw from catcher Reese McGuire. A few pitches later, the ball popped out of McGuire’s glove as he was transferring it from glove to hand, and it trickled just far enough away for Ramírez to break for home.

“It’s just what he does,” Vogt said. “I mean, he makes stuff happen. … It looked like he wasn't going to go [home] but then saw the pitcher [near the mound] and then realized he could make it. So I mean it's just heads up, he's aggressive, he's smart, he's everything you could want in a ballplayer.”

This isn’t anything new for the Guardians. Even though Vogt is in his first season with the club, he knew all of this about Ramírez as an opponent. No matter what he’s doing offensively, his baserunning never slumps. And when his bat is quiet, no one in the organization panics. Once again, he’s proven that it’s just a matter of time before the bat wakes up.

“I mean, I've been in this game for a long time and I know when you're hitting the ball well, sooner or later the results will come,” Ramírez said. “I know the season is long and good things are going to happen if you keep doing the right things.”