February 3, 2023

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J-Ram stays clutch, blasts HR on 4-RBI night

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HOUSTON — Three-time All-Star José Ramírez has proved he can hit when it matters the most all season for the Guardians.

The veteran entered Monday hitting 24-for-66 with men on base. He proceeded to go 2-for-5 with two extra-base hits and four RBIs in the 6-1 win against the Astros.

Ramírez once again leads the league in RBIs with 41 on the season.

“Not just tonight but the whole year,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said of the importance of Ramírez’s at-bats. “One of the best players in the game. He just does it every day, and he’s a joy to watch.”

The slugger continues to set the pace for the Guardians. Ramirez is 24-for-71 with 16 extra-base hits and 30 RBIs in Cleveland wins this season.

In the series opener, Ramírez swung the game into the Guardians’ favor in the fifth inning with one swing when he belted a 409-foot two-run home run to right-center field that extended their lead to 4-0. The home run came in a four-pitch sequence that ended with a changeup that he hit at an exit velocity of 99.4 mph.

It was his 10th long ball of the year and 63rd home run since 2020, which ranks fifth in MLB behind the Mets’ Pete Alonso.

“[Astros pitcher Luis Garcia] threw me a pitch I was looking for,” Ramírez said. “I saw it all the way and made a tremendous swing on it.”

It was one of two extra-base hits for the Dominican star on Monday. He also hit a double in the first inning. It added to his tally of 360 extra-base hits since 2017, which leads the Major Leagues.

Ramírez became the eighth player in Cleveland history to amass 80-plus games with two or more extra-base hits. He trails Manny Ramirez and Ken Keltner, who are tied at 91 games.  

Simply put, “this guy can hit,” as Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Ramírez posted a .342/.411/.722 slash line with 27 hits, 28 RBIs and seven homers in April. His numbers are down in May for his standards, hitting at a .219/.351/.453 clip with 14 hits and 13 RBIs. 

But Monday proved he continues to show up in various ways for the team.

Ramírez reached base or drove in a run in his first four at-bats before he flew out to lead off the ninth inning. He picked up an RBI in the third on a groundout and another on a forceout in the seventh to continue extending the Guardians’ lead as the pitching staff held the hot-hitting Astros to just four hits on the night.

“Every time [Ramírez] steps onto the plate, we expect him to do big things,” said Triston McKenzie, who dominated the Astros across seven strong frames. “He plays the game hard and he plays the game to win. He’s very unselfish, and I think just as a teammate, it allows me to go out there and be comfortable knowing that guys out here are playing for me like I am [for] them.”

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