Ramirez hot on Trout's tail with 22nd homer

Slugger putting together historic first half for Indians player

June 20th, 2018

CLEVELAND -- If is playing baseball on another planet, is on a mission to find it.

In the first inning of Wednesday's 12-0 win against the White Sox, Ramirez launched a fastball out to center field for his 22nd home run of the season for the Indians. The drive pulled the dynamic Tribe third baseman within one shot of Trout for the Major League lead in homers. Boston slugger J.D. Martinez also has 22 on the season.

"Jose never gives away an at-bat," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said prior to Wednesday's game. "Every single at-bat that he's up there, he is competing and finding a way to try to get a pitch to hit and hit it hard somewhere.

"And some of the skills that we had seen in the Minor Leagues with him -- just a good ability to put the ball in play, manage the strike zone, when he swings, he very rarely misses -- those same attributes are now playing out at the Major League level with more power behind it."

Ramirez's latest blast came on a 1-0 fastball from White Sox righty , who watched it rocket out to center for a three-run home run. Leading up to the blast, Lopez walked to open the inning before second baseman booted a grounder from to put two runners aboard.

Ramirez is tied for fourth in Indians history for the most home runs through the team's first 73 games of a season. Albert Belle (1994) and Jim Thome ('97) also had 22, while Rocky Colavito had 23 in '59, Belle launched 25 in '96 and Al Rosen belted 25 in '50.

Ramirez's shot armed ace with a quick 3-0 advantage, which ballooned into an 11-0 lead for the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner by the seventh. Before the day was through, Ramirez added a single, drew a pair of walks (one intentional), stole a base and crossed the plate three times.

With that showing, Ramirez now has a .291/.391/.611 slash line to go with 43 extra-base hits, 50 RBIs, 50 runs scored and 10 steals. Ramirez's 4.8 WAR (per FanGraphs) ranks second to only Trout (6.3, entering Wednesday) in MLB.

Ramirez is the first player in Indians history to have at least 10 steals, 20 doubles, 20 homers and 50 RBIs in a first-half since 1908. He is the first AL hitter to achieve that feat since Trout did it for the Angels in 2014. Trout is closing in on reaching those plateaus again in this season's incredible first half for the superstar.

"You know, he's just a baseball player," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Ramirez. "When you give guys contracts and things, I don't know that Jose really ever [cared]. He just likes to play. Even when we told him today we'd give him a couple innings off, he kind of thought about it a little bit. He just likes to play baseball, and he's really good."