J-Ram first to 50 RBIs after homer in Guardians' 8th straight win

May 26th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- If José Ramírez was in the NBA Jam video game, the baseballs he’s been hitting would have flames surrounding them. He’s that hot.

His 15th home run of the season punctuated a four-run Cleveland third inning. And after driving in two with that one swing, he became the first Major Leaguer this year to surpass 50 RBIs.

The only thing as hot as Ramírez right now is his own team, which has won eight in a row. The Guardians also secured their sixth series victory of May after taking care of the Angels, 4-3, on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

“One of the best players in the world,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “He doesn’t get enough recognition for it. He wants to play baseball and he wants to win. He plays accordingly every single night.”

Ramírez’s third blast over two games in Anaheim was the result of sizing up starting pitcher José Soriano. With two outs and one aboard, he worked the count full after falling behind 0-2 on a sinker outside and fouling off a splitter. Then came two pitches low. On one of those, home-plate umpire Carlos Torres ruled that Ramírez held his swing and was blocked by catcher Logan O’Hoppe. But the ricochet went far enough toward the mound that Brayan Rocchio scored from third to temporarily increase the Cleveland lead to 2-0.

Ramírez then then took a sinker and fouled off another before delivering on a knuckle curve middle-low. The drive went 365 feet, clearing the short right-field fence and the reach of Jo Adell.

“I'll have to stop that guy from swinging the bat with runners in scoring position,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “Because he's an RBI machine. He really picks them up. Tomorrow, I’m not letting him swing the bat.”

Ramírez’s power and plate discipline haven't just been limited to what’s happened in this series. In his last eight games, he’s homered six times with 14 RBIs and four strikeouts. Since May 10, he’s produced eight home runs, 21 RBIs and seven K’s. Over his last 19 games, Ramírez has hit 10 over the walls, has driven in 26 and has fanned just eight times.

In the series opener on Friday, Ramírez ignited back-to-back-to-back blasts and an inning later went deep for his 24th career multi-home run performance. After Saturday, Ramírez ranks fourth in the AL in homers, and the Guardians as a team have 59 in 52 contests.

Preceding the most recent display of Ramírez power was some small ball from the Guardians. Tyler Freeman’s one-out single to center field drove in Estevan Florial from second base.

Cleveland starter and Southern California native Tanner Bibee gave most of that 4-0 lead back when he gave up a three-run home run to Taylor Ward. He looked shaky to start the fifth, yielding a pair of singles. But he was bailed out when Luis Rengifo tried to stretch his single only to get cut down at second base on a throw by left fielder Florial – one of three instances on the night in which Los Angeles made an out on the basepaths. Bo Naylor and shortstop Rocchio teamed up to nab two potential basestealers.

“Whenever the defense picks me up like that, it really fires me up,” Bibee said. “Those guys put in work every day of the week to get better at their craft, and that’s just the result of it.”

With a runner now at third, Bibee struck out Ward and Calhoun to preserve the lead generated primarily by Ramírez’s scorching bat.

“The key is to not think about that guy [on third base] at all and execute my pitches,” Bibee said. “If you can not let that guy in scoring position affect you, it takes a big weight off your shoulders. I think I did a good job of that today.”

Bibee’s quality start was backed up by the Guardians’ stellar bullpen. Cleveland relievers allowed just two hits and struck out five over the final scoreless three innings. The trio of Cade Smith, Hunter Gaddis and Emmanuel Clase locked up the Guardian’s eighth straight.

“We think we can win every single day,” Vogt said. “And we’re going to go out and try to prove it.”