CLEVELAND -- The Indians' offense has operated like a powder keg this season. The lineup might go quiet for a few days, but when the group reverses that trend, it happens swiftly and in overwhelming fashion.On Wednesday night at Progressive Field, Jose Ramirez lit the fuse.Ramirez ignited a 19-4 rout
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' offense has operated like a powder keg this season. The lineup might go quiet for a few days, but when the group reverses that trend, it happens swiftly and in overwhelming fashion.
On Wednesday night at Progressive Field, Jose Ramirez lit the fuse.
Ramirez ignited a 19-4 rout of the Reds with a pair of home runs, giving him 27 shots on the season to pull within one of tying MLB leader J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox. Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis also cleared the wall to help power a relentless offensive attack that featured 15 runs between the third and fourth innings.
"It's great. It was a fun day to be at the plate today," Lindor said. "Guys are going to get a lot of confidence out of it. Pretty much everybody got a hit."
Eleven players had at least one hit for the American League Central-leading Indians (50-41), and seven recorded at least two RBIs. Ramirez, who homered off Tyler Mahle in the first and then against Tanner Rainey in the third, led the charge with five RBIs.
The 19 runs scored were the most scored by Cleveland since June 28, 2013, when the Tribe scored the same total in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the White Sox. It marked the most runs tallied for the Indians in a home game since July 4, 2006, when the club won, 19-1, against the Yankees.
"It was terrific -- on a lot of fronts," said Indians manager Terry Francona, who held a team meeting prior to the game to apologize for Tuesday's bullpen miscommunication mishap. "I think they tried to take me out of it, which is OK. We struck early and we kept going."
The Indians sent 12 batters to the plate in a nine-run, seven-hit third inning, which was punctuated by Ramirez's second shot of the night. It represented the second nine-run frame of the season for Cleveland, making it the only team in the Majors this season with a pair of innings consisting of at least nine runs.
Lindor, who will join Ramirez at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday, then capped off a six-run outburst in the fourth with a three-run homer. That gave the shortstop 25 dingers on the season. Lindor is now tied for the third-most home runs before the break by a shortstop in MLB history, trailing Alex Rodriguez (27 in 2002) and Ernie Banks (26 in 1960).
Needless to say, the surplus of support did wonders for Indians starter Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco (10-5) turned in five solid innings, but the lopsided score allowed Francona to lift the righty after just 83 pitches. Carrasco struck out seven, walked one and allowed one run on a sacrifice fly by Jose Peraza in the fifth. Scooter Gennett and Jesse Winker later added a homer apiece off Indians pitcher Adam Plutko, who earned a save.
Nearly every hitter who stepped into the box for the Tribe was involved in Wednesday's rout, but Ramirez's performance loomed largest in the end.
"That guy is unbelievable," Carrasco said. "He's been surprising everyone here. … He hits that ball so hard. He's one of the guys that we talk to in the dugout. He says, 'I'm just going to hit a homer. I'm just going to hit a homer. I'm just going to hit a double.' ... Whatever he says, he does it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Dynamic duo: After eight of the 10 batters Rainey faced reached base, Cincinnati handed the ball to Jackson Stephens, who also struggled out of the chute. Following a single by Greg Allen, Stephens surrendered Lindor's three-run blast to right field. With that shot, Ramirez and Lindor became the first pair of teammates age 25 and under in MLB history to each have 25 or more home runs in the first half. This marks the 10th time this season that Lindor and Ramirez have homered in the same game.
"They are a very good tandem," Francona said. "I know they care about each other, but it's a pretty good tandem right there. They do it in a little different ways, but they're switch-hitters, they're both on that side of the infield. They're young and they are really good."
Kipnis delivers: The Indians have been linked to Orioles star Manny Machado in trade rumors, but such a deal would only work if Machado played third and Ramirez moved to second. That would create doubt about the status of Kipnis at second. Amidst the rumors, Kipnis has been heating up at the plate. Entering Wednesday, he was batting .274 (.884 OPS) with a 144 wRC+ in the past 30 days. Against the Reds, Kipnis singled, drew two walks and ignited the six-run fourth with a two-run homer off Rainey.
"We're slowly returning back to form," Kipnis said. "I've been working hard to find it and be consistent with it. There's little things each day that I have to [do] a little check through, a little checklist to kind of make sure that I'm locked in. We're starting to feel good again. I like it."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
During the nine-run flurry in the third inning, Tribe catcher Yan Gomes delivered a two-run single to right field. On the play, Yonder Alonso scored from second, crossing the plate as the throw arrived from Reds right fielder Scott Schebler. Cincinnati challenged that catcher Tucker Barnhart applied a tag in time, but the safe call stood following a replay review.
"It seems like a long time ago," Francona said, "but, actually, the play with Yonder at the plate at the time was a big play. It was 4-0 and we would've had two outs. Instead, we got five [runs], first and third, and the inning kept going. You just never know what's going to happen. I just thought that was a huge play."
Ramirez and Lindor have 52 home runs combined this season, marking the most in club history by a pair of Indians teammates before the All-Star break. The last MLB duo to have at least 52 combined blasts in the first half was Michael Trout and Jose Pujols, who had 26 apiece for the Angels in 2015.
Carrasco notched his 1,000th career strikeout during his outing, becoming the third-fastest player to reach that milestone in club history. Only Sam McDowell (932 innings) and current Tribe ace Corey Kluber (941 1/3 innings) achieved the feat faster than Carrasco (999 1/3).
HE SAID IT
"You guys always ask me when guys are young, 'What are they going to turn into?' And you don't know. I mean, you'd like to think you watch him and you pay attention but is the guy going to hit for average? Is the guy going to hit for power? Is he going to do both? Or, is he going to turn into this? He's a monster. He's getting better." -- Francona, on Ramirez
"I told Cody I'm coming for him. I'm only 139 back, with 100-percent conversion rate in my career on saves. So, watch out." -- Plutko, who picked up a four-inning save Wednesday after Tribe closer Cody Allen set the franchise saves record (140) last week
It will be a battle of aces in the MLB Network Showcase Game on Thursday, when Kluber (12-4, 2.49 ERA) takes on Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA) in the opener of a four-game set between the Indians and Yankees at Progressive Field. Kluber is 7-1 with a 1.43 ERA in 10 home starts this season for Cleveland. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.
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.