CLEVELAND — When it rains, it pours for the Guardians, and we’re not talking about the weather anymore.
As we saw during the team’s four-game winning streak last week, the Guardians’ offense is capable of exploding. That’s exactly what it did in Wednesday’s 11-1 victory over the White Sox in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Progressive Field, backed by a whopping nine-run second inning. But this instance was a little different than anything we’ve seen not only this year, but in the last 86 years.
In his Major League debut, Gabriel Arias, the Guardians’ No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, started the team’s first nine-run inning since Aug. 6, 2020 (a 10-run seventh inning against the Reds) by reaching on an error. From there, four singles ensued before José Ramírez launched the team’s third (and his second) grand slam of the season — all 10 games of it.
In the blink of an eye, the Guardians had plated nine runs without making a single out. It was the first time since Sept. 23, 1936, that Cleveland had scored at least nine runs in an inning without recording an out, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The obvious takeaway was that the offense had a much-needed breakout afternoon in the matinee of the twin bill to try to set a more consistent tone following a roller-coaster of a start to the 2022 season:
• First two games: two losses, 12-for-66 (.182 average), 1 run
• Next four games: four wins, 59-of-161 (.366 average), 44 runs
• Last three games entering Wednesday: three losses, 17-of-92 (.185 average), 4 runs
But the more important lesson to absorb was that with a little extra offense to help Ramírez’s always consistent bat, the team has enough tools to put up a fight in the American League Central. The team knows it entered the year as a severe underdog, and Ramírez can’t carry the offense on his own – even though he certainly tries.
The second-inning grand slam proved why getting people on base in front of Ramírez is absolutely crucial. For the first time in franchise history, the club has a player with two grand slams under his belt by the end of April, let alone within the first 10 games of a season. And through this short period, Ramírez already has knocked in 19 runs, starting his annual AL MVP campaign nice and early.
“It’s crazy how good that guy is at baseball,” first baseman and outfielder Josh Naylor said. “He’s an All-Star. The guy’s a Hall of Famer. He’s incredible. I’m very thankful he’s on our side.”