KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Even after a convincing victory Tuesday against Kansas City, the Cleveland Indians still have questions unanswered. But one of the answers could be Harold Ramirez in center field.
In his second game only after joining the club from the taxi team, Ramirez collected two hits, including RBI’s brace over Royals Josh Staumont in the eighth inning of a 7 victory. -3 Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
Ramirez hit Staumont’s fastball 2-2 into the right corner of the pitch to score Franmil Reyes with a putout in the eighth. Josh Naylor followed with a single RBI ground ball through the left side to extend Cleveland’s lead and Jake Bauers added with a two-point nip at home against Royals right-hander Tyler Zuber, his first from the year that pushed Cleveland’s advantage to four.
Ramirez has said he hates pulling out, and when he comes to a two-hit count he takes steps to avoid doing so.
“My approach gets really aggressive just to put the ball in play,” said Ramirez.
Ten of Cleveland’s 15 wins were comeback wins, and Tuesday’s three-point deficit matched their biggest comeback of the season. Ramirez and Naylor remained searing at home plate, each collecting a pair of hits to lead a resurgent offense that came late after battling Royals left-hander Mike Minor.
Cleveland has won four of its last five and three in a row against the Royals since the first week of April while defeating Kansas City in first place with Chicago atop the Central Division of the American League.
The Indians had no answers early on for Minor, who baffled the Cleveland hitters through five innings, allowing just three hits and three marches.
But the Indians recovered from a three-point deficit in the sixth as Franmil Reyes sent a high chop with bases loaded towards shortstop Nicky Lopez who jumped under his glove. Two points were scored on the play and José Ramírez scored on the third goal.
José Ramírez later returned home on a Harold Ramirez single against Greg Holland which tied the game at 3. Manager Terry Francona said he understands there will be frustration sometimes, but the biggest for Indians is that they continue playing.
“If you keep playing it becomes fun,” Francona said. “Our canoe had a lot of energy, especially after Jake hit that ball. I like to watch these guys have fun because they fought to give us a chance to win.
Righty Phil Maton made his first big league start as a “first game” for rookie Sam Hentges, who entered the second inning after Maton allowed a run on a double with a strikeout by Hunter Dozier and a single RBI by Michael A. Taylor. He took out Hanser Alberto and took out Lopez on a ball to the right to escape trouble.
Francona compared Hentges to Royals left-hander Daniel Lynch, who made his big league debut against Cleveland on Monday. He said Hentges’ command was “spotty” at times, especially as he got deeper into the game.
“He’s a kid who’s had an uneven schedule for the past three weeks,” Francona said. “I hope putting him on a five day routine will be really good for him.”
Kansas City added to their lead in the third on an unusual play when Salvador Perez singled out a deep center right drive. With Whit Merrifield third and Andrew Benintendi second, Perez’s ball landed between Harold Ramirez and Naylor on the warning lane. Merrifield scored easily, but Benintendi was confused, perhaps by a referee’s incorrect decision of a take, and was suspended between second and third.
Naylor quickly recovered the ball on the inside court and Amed Rosario scored Benintendi, but after team manager Angel Hernandez’s side discussed the game, Benintendi got third base.
Francona argued vehemently with Hernandez while Hentges threw a few warm-up shots to stay loose. In the end, the appeal didn’t cost Cleveland a point as Hentges knocked out Jorge Soler and put Taylor on a right ball.
Perez gave the Royals a three-point lead in the fifth with a 460-foot homerun off Hentges that landed in the fountains beyond the center wall of the field. It was Perez’s seventh home run and his second against Cleveland this year.
As the Kansas City relievers box suffered a second consecutive collapse late in the inning, the Cleveland relievers box was once again hooked. Nick Sandlin, Nick Wittgren and Cal Quantrill combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings after Hentges left. Sandlin cleared Taylor with the go-ahead in goal position in the fifth while Wittgren had a clear seventh.
Quantrill allowed a hit in the eighth and a walk and a hit in the ninth before Carlos Santana struck in a 3-5 double play to finish the game.
Following: The streak continues on Tuesday as the Indians send right-hander Shane Bieber (3-2, 2.76) to the mound. He faces Royals right-hander Brady Singer (1-2, 3.09). The first launch is scheduled for 8:10 pm The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Indians radio network.
New Indian masks for sale: Here’s where you can purchase Cleveland Indian-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB profits are donated to charity.
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