CHICAGO -- The baseball that Jose Ramirez deposited in the basket above the ivy-covered wall in right at Wrigley Field was just the start. The Indians have plenty of bad memories when it comes to the Cubs, but Tuesday night did not stir any flashbacks.Ramirez saw to that in the
CHICAGO -- The baseball that Jose Ramirez deposited in the basket above the ivy-covered wall in right at Wrigley Field was just the start. The Indians have plenty of bad memories when it comes to the Cubs, but Tuesday night did not stir any flashbacks.
Ramirez saw to that in the third inning, when he launched a three-run home run off Cubs righty Tyler Chatwood to ignite a 10-1 rout for the Tribe in its first trip back to the Friendly Confines since the 2016 World Series. There is no rewriting that history, but Cleveland turned in a much more memorable box score this time around.
Ramirez led the charge.
"He's one of the better hitters in the game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You look at him, and I don't know if you necessarily think you're going to see a guy who can drive the ball out of the ballpark like that. And now, as he's accumulating some experience, he knows the pitchers, he knows how to attack them, it makes him even better."
The surplus of support worked well for Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer, who cruised through six shutout innings to lower his ERA to 2.35 on the season. Bauer bent at a handful of turns -- evidenced by the seven hits, three wild pitches and two walks on his line -- but the righty struck out six and halted every potential rally.
Only Ian Happ's home run to lead off the ninth inning against Josh Tomlin -- who has recently been moved to the bullpen due to poor performance in the starting rotation -- prevented the shutout.
Ramirez's blast in the third marked his 14th of the season, pulling him within two of Major League leader Mookie Betts. The shot by the Indians' third baseman came off a 2-2 two-seamer from Chatwood, who labored with his command and allowed 10 of his 17 batters faced to reach base (six via walk).
Chatwood issued a leadoff walk to Francisco Lindor in the third before surrendering a single to Michael Brantley, setting up the home run from Ramirez that spotted Cleveland a 3-0 lead. That ballooned into a 10-0 advantage in the fifth, when Yonder Alonso delivered a three-run double off lefty Mike Montgomery.
"Ramirez is good. C'mon. This guy is really good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "[Chatwood] kept throwing that same fastball, and it got into his swing path and, you saw the replay, he crushed it. Ramirez is good, and you can't keep repeating the same pitch in kind of the same area and hope he'll miss it. He's not going to miss it."
Asked what type of pitch he hit for the homer, Ramirez did not miss a beat.
"Home run pitch," quipped the third baseman.
Ramirez ended the night 1-for-2 with three walks (one intentional), improving his season slash line to .297/.394/.617. Ramirez has 14 doubles to go along with his 14 homers, and the switch-hitter has logged more walks (27) than strikeouts (18). His 8.9 percent strikeout rate is the fourth-lowest mark in the Majors, and his 4.2 percent swinging-strike rate is the second-lowest rate in baseball.
"It's impressive watching him," Bauer said. "He walked three times tonight. He didn't get a whole lot of pitches to hit. The one he did get to hit, he didn't [get cheated]. It's fun. It's fun joking around with him. He's a character. But, more than anything, it's fun watching him do what he does on the field."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Kipnis' hometown heroics: A trip back home to Chicago usually does Jason Kipnis good, and that held true on Tuesday night. With a host of family and friends in the stands, the Indians' second baseman came through with a key two-run single in the fourth inning, pushing the Tribe ahead, 7-0. Kipnis, who is trying to work his way out of a season-long slump, also drew a walk in the second. For his career, Kipnis has hit .298 (62-for-208) with a .466 slugging percentage in games played in Chicago (Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field) in the regular season and postseason combined.
In his second game with Cleveland, Melky Cabrera contributed both in the batter's box and in the field. The veteran outfielder sparked a three-run outburst in the fourth inning with an RBI double down the left-field line, marking his first hit as a member of the Indians. In the fifth, Cabrera gloved a single by Albert Almora Jr. in right field, spun and fired a pinpoint throw to second, cutting down the runner before he could notch a double. It marked Cabrera's second outfield assist in as many games.
"He's very accurate throwing the ball, as we've seen two games in a row," Francona said. "And he's a professional hitter. We saw him tonight flip over to the right side and get a base hit. So, hopefully he can settle in a little bit, whether it's playing right field or pinch-hitting, and help us a little bit."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Alonso set the tone in the field for the Tribe in the first inning, when Benjamin Zobrist sent Bauer's second pitch of the game sharply up the first-base line. Alonso dove and snared the ball near the chalk line, scrambled to his feet and then hustled to beat the runner. The first baseman dove and slapped the bag with his glove to record the frame's first out in highlight fashion.
"That's huge," Bauer said. "It changes the game. You get a guy on for a second, and the complexion of the game changes -- more pitches, et cetera. Maybe the game turns out differently if he doesn't make that play."
Bauer went 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three appearances against the Cubs in the 2016 World Series, but the righty has excelled against the North Siders otherwise. In three career regular-season starts against Chicago, Bauer is 3-0 with a 0.46 ERA (one earned run in 19 2/3 innings).
Right-hander Adam Plutko (1-0, 3.68 ERA) will come up from Triple-A Columbus to assume the fifth spot in the rotation for Wednesday's 8:05 p.m. ET MLB Network Showcase game against the Cubs, the finale of the two-game set at Wrigley Field. In seven starts at Triple-A this year, Plutko posted a 2.25 ERA in 44 innings. Chicago will counter with left-hander Jonathan Lester (4-1, 2.52).
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.