CLEVELAND — The Indians have waited all season for Jose Ramirez and their sagging offense to show up. Both arrived Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Cleveland ended a lengthy scoreless-innings streak and Ramirez capped a rare positive night for Indians hitters, launching a two-out, two-run walk-off homer in the ninth to lift the Indians to a 5-3 victory over Central Division rival Chicago.
The wind blowing in had prevented multiple long drives from leaving the park, but there was no stopping Ramirez’s estimated 412-foot shot to the right-field seats.
“I was thrilled,” manager Terry Francona said. “All he has to do is find the hole, but he really put a charge in that, because (Jason Kipnis) hit his ball early in the game probably as good as he could hit it and it was just fighting the traffic the whole way. Josee really jumped on that ball and it was a guy for his career he hadn’t done much against.”
Ramirez connected against Kelvin Herrera after entering the at-bat 1-for-10 in his career off the right-hander.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to be out, but had the ball come back, I would just sit there and complain, because there’s no way that ball wasn’t going out,” Ramirez said through an interpreter.
Ramirez, who entered the night hitting only .197, had shown signs of life lately, going 8-for-29 over his last eight games, and extended his streak of reaching base safely to 17 games with a first-inning single.
“I really understand the nature of the game. It has ups and downs,” Ramirez said. “Fortunately, I have a little track record and I know what I’ve done and what I can accomplish and that’s what I try to remember. Remember, it’s a long season. It just started.”
Right-hander Shane Bieber was en route to another dominant outing, allowing only a run on Jose Abreu’s two-out homer in the third over the first six innings, but he found trouble in the seventh.
Bieber allowed the first two hitters to reach via singles, then, after a sacrifice bunt moved each up, he surrendered a two-run, game-tying single to No. 9 hitter Ryan Cordell.
“I thought he was really good,” Francona said, “and then the last inning, his last inning, he just all of the sudden was up with it seemed like everything, and it was happening quick.”
“I thought I did a lot of good stuff tonight,” Bieber said. “With that being said, there was a lot to improve on just like every outing. (I) would’ve liked to extend it. (I) was in a really good position to go deep into that ballgame and keep the lead, but wasn’t able to do that.
“Fortunately, the offense picked me up and Josee picked me up. You know, it was just a really good, overall win tonight.”
The Indians snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak in the fourth, getting just their second run over a 31-inning span before adding two more in the inning.
Carlos Santana, Carlos Gonzalez and Jake Bauers each had one-out singles to load the bases off White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez, and Leonys Martin beat a double-play throw to first to score Santana with the game-tying run.
Catcher Kevin Plawecki was hit by a pitch before Tyler Naquin delivered a two-run single to put the Indians in front 3-1.
Naquin is batting .357 (5-for-14) with five RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Pinch hitter Jordan Luplow struck out to start the ninth but Francisco Lindor singled and stole second as the go-ahead run. Kipnis struck out before Ramirez hit a 3-1 fastball out for the game-winner. It’s a blast he and the Indians are hoping kick-starts the offense.
“I understand we’re struggling a little bit, but I trust in the teammates that we have,” Ramirez said. “We’re a competitive team. We have a good bunch of guys and thank God for this win tonight. I know we’re gonna keep going.”
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