CLEVELAND -- There have been stretches this season where Jose Ramirez looked like he was starting to revert to All-Star form. But after a week or so, the bat would go cold again.
Now, the Indians’ third baseman had put together his longest hot streak of the season, with an 11-game hitting streak from July 4-19. When it came to an end on Saturday, after an 0-for-4 performance, Ramirez faced his next test. Would his bat fall flat again, or is the former MVP candidate back in his groove?
He provided the answer in Sunday’s series finale against the Royals, launching a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth inning that sparked the Cleveland offense to a 5-4 victory at Progressive Field. The victory gave the Indians seven wins during their 10-game homestand. Since June 4, the team has gone 28-11 (.718), which is the best winning percentage in the Majors in that stretch.
“We’ve been real encouraged with [Ramirez] the last three or four weeks,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
With a batting average that dipped below the Mendoza Line as recently as June 12 (.198), Ramirez’s season stat won’t be eye-catching anytime soon, but he’s since lifted it to .232. Over his last 22 contests, Ramirez is hitting .329 with five home runs and 18 RBIs.
“My confidence is always there regardless of the results,” Ramirez said after breaking out of a funk that dated back to last August. “I just like to keep working and I think that's what I focus on, my confidence and on the work that I put in and the results will show.”
Ramirez may not have been able to continue his hit streak on Saturday, but he has now hit safely in 24 of his last 29 contests. Of the 33 games in which Ramirez has recorded an RBI this season, the Indians have won 30.
“Yeah, I've been feeling more confident,” Ramirez said. “And the [hard work] continues and the results are showing up. I feel really confident.”
Ramirez’s blast in the sixth was his 10th of the season, making him the sixth Tribe player with double-digit home runs. The homer came three innings after Francisco Lindor hit his 16th. Although the two have combinied for 26 long balls, Sunday was the first time this year that they both hit one in the same game. In 2018, they each homered in 10 contests.
“Maybe they will [match that] this year,” Francona said. “That’s not out of the question yet. Just hold off. There’s some time.”
After back-to-back All-Star seasons in 2017 and ’18, winning a Silver Slugger Award and placing third in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting, Ramirez said he never doubted himself throughout his slow start, not allowing any of his struggles to carry over to the next day. But does he believe he’s back? His response was simple:
“Good or bad, I’m always here.”