OAKLAND -- Don't call it a comeback. The Guardians needed two of them, coming from behind not once but twice to pull off a 12-11 win over the A’s in 10 innings at the Coliseum.
Cleveland played catch-up for most of Monday night's back-and-forth thriller, trailing by as many as four runs after starter Zach Plesac failed to get out of the second inning.
But if you ask the Guardians, the win was never in doubt.
"It's crazy, it's huge -- it's so fun to watch," Plesac said. "Next man up. It's always everybody, our whole mentality. It doesn't matter who it is, everybody's always ready to step up. I think that's why we're so good."
That mentality was evident, as the Guardians refused to go down without a fight. Several key contributors stepped up for Cleveland. There was Xzavion Curry, who took the mound after Plesac's exit and tossed five innings of two-run ball; Myles Straw, who swiped a key bag to help the Guardians tie the game in the eighth; and Will Brennan, who made what manager Terry Francona called a "game-saving play" to keep Cleveland within a run in the seventh -- among many others.
No one player turned the tide on his own, but José Ramírez's three knocks and mastery on the basepaths played an outsized role in the comeback.
"He's a legend," Brennan said. "He's our vet, he's our guy. … We've got to be there to support him, and we have guys that absolutely do that. But it's great to have your best player come through in big moments."
Ramírez put Cleveland on top in the eighth inning, driving a ball to right field that skipped under the glove of Conner Capel and rolled all the way to the warning track, giving Steven Kwan plenty of time to cross the plate. Hustling around to third base, Ramírez was in position to score on Josh Bell's sacrifice fly to left. He dove around the tag from Shea Langeliers with an electric head-first slide, rising to his knees in triumph to the elation of fans on the visiting side.
But the Guardians' lead was short-lived, as closer Emmanuel Clase surrendered a two-run blast to Oakland's Seth Brown that sent the game to extras.
"It can be a frustrating game," Francona said, "but if you don't put your head down and you keep playing, sometimes good things happen."
It was Ramírez -- again -- who drove in the go-ahead run with a single to right in the 10th, sending Kwan, the automatic runner, home. The base hit also allowed Amed Rosario, who led off the frame with a single of his own, to go to third; he soon scored a much-needed insurance run on a wild pitch from A's right-hander Trevor May. Righty Eli Morgan allowed a run in the bottom of the 10th, but held on for his first career save.
It was the second straight extra-innings victory for the Guardians, who have not lost a game since dropping their Opening Day tilt in Seattle.
Just five games into the 2023 campaign, the Guardians have repeatedly put their signature style of baseball to the test. So far, it's been a winning formula. They gut out every play and take every extra base they can get. Most importantly, they don't stop fighting for every win.
"We got down, we got up, we got down. They fought back -- I give [the A's] a lot of credit," Francona said. "And you're on the road, so you're always a swing away. But we did enough to win, and that's what we set out to do."
From the face of the franchise to the late additions to the 26-man roster, the Guardians hope to harness that never-say-die mentality and ride it to another big season.
"I think that energy is just infectious, and it goes from every player, just from the top to the bottom," Curry said. "Everybody hustles every single inning, no matter what the score is. And I love it."