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Red-hot J-Ram, Lindor make Indians history

Ramirez ties MLB lead, sets club first-half mark with 28th HR; shortstop scores record 83rd run
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- The Yankees have seen plenty of Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez -- MLB's home run leader heading into Thursday night. But New York ran up against another powerful slugger in the opener at Progressive Field, as Jose Ramirez belted his 28th blast of the season to tie Martinez for the Major League lead.

In the fifth inning, Ramirez launched his fourth home run in the last three games, a game-tying shot off Luis Severino, but the All-Star's efforts weren't enough for the Indians, who were held hitless by the Yankees' bullpen over the final four innings in a 7-4 loss.

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CLEVELAND -- The Yankees have seen plenty of Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez -- MLB's home run leader heading into Thursday night. But New York ran up against another powerful slugger in the opener at Progressive Field, as Jose Ramirez belted his 28th blast of the season to tie Martinez for the Major League lead.

In the fifth inning, Ramirez launched his fourth home run in the last three games, a game-tying shot off Luis Severino, but the All-Star's efforts weren't enough for the Indians, who were held hitless by the Yankees' bullpen over the final four innings in a 7-4 loss.

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"Josey did what he's always done," Tribe shortstop and fellow All-Star Francisco Lindor said. "We just tried to get a good pitch and drive the ball."

Ramirez's solo shot gave him the record for most home runs by an Indians player in the first half, surpassing Albert Belle's 27 in 1996. Belle, a five-time All-Star, went on to hit 48 blasts that year.

"I knew he was going to be a good hitter," Lindor said, smirking. "To hit home runs like that, not sure. But I knew what he was capable of. I guess he's getting stronger as the year goes by and he's getting the right pitches to drive.

"He gets a good pitch and when he swings, he's not missing it."

Lindor also made history against the Yankees. He led off a two-run first inning with a double off the right-field wall, advanced to third on Michael Brantley's groundout and came home on a line-drive single from Ramirez.

Video: NYY@CLE: Ramirez smacks an RBI single to right in 1st

Lindor's double gave the shortstop 54 extra-base hits on the year, the most all time by a shortstop in the first half, surpassing the Orioles' Miguel Tejada, who had 53 in 2005. Lindor's 83 runs through 92 team games is the most all time for an Indians player before the All-Star break, surpassing Kenny Lofton, who had 82 through 83 games in 1994.

Video: NYY@CLE: Lindor rips 54th extra-base hit before ASG

"It's special, but we lost," Lindor said. "Things like this, I don't take for granted."

Ramirez's homer came on a 99.1-mph fastball from Severino -- the fastest pitch hit for a home run by an Indians player since Statcast™ launched in 2015. In fact, the fastest three pitches they've homered against since 2015 have all been vs. Severino -- Roberto Perez turned on a 99-mph heater in Game 4 of the 2017 ALDS and Ramirez's Aug. 28 homer last season came on a 98.7-mph offering.

"It's funny, I feel like if Frankie goes out there and hits a double, Josey is going to go out there and hit a homer," said Corey Kluber, who fell to 12-5 after giving up six earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Ramirez and Lindor combined to go 3-for-9 with three homers, eight RBIs and four runs scored Wednesday in the Indians' 19-4 rout of the Reds. On Thursday, the pair combined to go 4-for-7 with two singles, a double, a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Lindor has insisted many times this season that there is no competition between him and Ramirez.

But he admits the energy from his teammate's hot bat can be contagious.

"I want him to be the best hitter he can be," Lindor said. "I'm sure he's thinking the same way towards me. Yeah, we learn from each other, the way the pitch may come. They might pitch to me the same way they pitch to him, then we learn from it. We learn from each other."

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez