CHICAGO -- Jose Ramirez, as he has all season, delivered in a clutch situation against the White Sox on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Putting the Indians' recent offensive struggles struggles behind him, Ramirez broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning by clubbing his 20th home run, becoming the
CHICAGO -- Jose Ramirez, as he has all season, delivered in a clutch situation against the White Sox on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Putting the Indians' recent offensive struggles struggles behind him, Ramirez broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning by clubbing his 20th home run, becoming the fourth player in MLB to reach that milestone as the Indians won, 5-2.
Not only did Ramirez's dinger put him in the 20-homer club alongside Angels outfielder Michael Trout, Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez and A's outfielder Khris Davis, it extended his on-base streak to 22 games dating back to May 22. Ramirez had been 0-for-3 with three flyouts before his long ball.
"I'm not a power hitter. I just try to make good swings, and if the ball leaves the park, it leaves the park," Ramirez said through team interpreter Will Clements about his first homer since June 5. "I feel good about it, yeah, but I've just gotta keep looking forward to the next day."
"I told [bench coach Brad Mills] and [pitching coach Carl Willis] that he never leaves here without hitting one," manager Terry Francona said. "I thought he hit one [out] right-handed, but he just got under it a little bit, but obviously we were scuffling to score runs the last couple days. A big hit like that really helps."
The Indians had a rough go of it at the plate in the first three games of the four-game set, going 5-for-32 with runners in scoring position and leaving 24 men on base entering Thursday's finale. In those three games, Cleveland scored only seven runs, four of which came in the series-opening victory on Monday. Wednesday's loss seemed to drive the dagger deeper, as the Indians outhit the Chicago, 14-4, yet lost by a run.
While the offense had struggled throughout this series, Cleveland's starting pitching did not. One night after Trevor Bauer struck out 10-plus hitters for the fourth consecutive start, Mike Clevinger kept the rotation on a roll with seven impressive innings. His only mistake came in the first inning, when Jose Abreu took him deep on an 0-1 fastball for a two-run homer.
"It was nice when we got that game back tied because the way he threw the ball, you hate to see one pitch [ruin it]," Francona said. "It was a nice piece of hitting by Abreu, but Clev threw the ball so well."
Clevinger finished the afternoon with just the two runs allowed on five hits, while walking one and setting a career high with 11 strikeouts.
"I've been for the past probably two years diving to the plate, and then having my athleticism take over in order to generate velo," Clevinger said. "I'm starting to find a way to stay back with my legs a little longer, and you saw the dividends today already, so it's been good."
Francisco Lindor opened the game with a leadoff homer, his 15th of the season to get the Tribe up early. Yan Gomes plated a run on a bases-loaded walk in the third, and he scored on an error in the eighth.
"Extremely important," Lindor said of the win. "These division games are very important for all of us, and we went down the last two nights. We just had to bounce back somehow, some way, and ended up winning today. That way we can now go home with a happy flight and feel comfortable with where we are in the season."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Happy anniversary: For Lindor, June 14 is a good day. On this day three years ago, Lindor made his Major League debut in a 1-for-2 pinch-hitting effort on his way to finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. On Thursday, Lindor led off with a homer, sending Chicago starter Carlos Rodon's third pitch into the left-field stands.
"That's one of the reasons I want to lead off, to get the team going," Lindor said. "I try to do my best to score early and give the team the lead. Whether it's a home run or a base hit where I end up scoring, it's important. It tells the team that, 'Alright, it's time to go, we've got to win today.'"
The long ball was Lindor's third leadoff homer this season and sixth in his career.
Ramirez reached the milestone of 20 homers in just 257 at-bats this season. Last year, Ramirez did not hit his 20th home run until his 488th at-bat, which came on Aug. 28, 2017, against the Yankees.
HE SAID IT
"I'm not a power hitter, I continue to say I'm not a power hitter. When I try to hit home runs, they don't go out, and I slump. Whenever I stick to my game plan, which is line drives, they go out. And that's how I know I'm not a power hitter. And Jose's not a power hitter, either. He learned how to hit. He always knew how to hit, but he became better and he's driving the ball. -- Lindor, on whether he thinks teams are still surprised that he and Ramirez can hit home runs consistently
The Indians return home to start a three-game series with Minnesota, starting Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Corey Kluber (10-2, 1.99 ERA) takes the hill for the Indians coming off one of his best starts of the year. Kluber threw eight innings of two-run ball in Detroit on Sunday to earn his 10th win of the season. He's gone six straight starts (41 1/3 innings) without walking a batter. The Twins will throw out right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-4, 3.45).
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.