It took a minute, until the fifth inning to be exact, but the Indians finally recorded their first hit of Sunday’s series finale, and it was a big one. Harold Ramirez smacked his third homer in the past two games in the 2-1 win at PNC Park.
Pirates starting pitcher JT Brubaker had retired 13 straight Cleveland batters, but that came to an end when Ramirez stepped into the batter’s box. On a 1-2 count, he smacked a four-seam fastball a Statcast-projected 408 feet to break the scoreless tie and end the perfect-game bid.
After recording his first career multihomer game on Saturday, Ramirez has now homered in back-to-back games for the second time in his career; the first coming on Aug. 29-30, 2019, when Ramirez was with the Marlins. The Tribe is 32-16 in games in which the team homers.
Ramirez gave his offense the jump start it needed to avoid the sweep in the three-game series against the Pirates. In the top of the seventh inning, Josh Naylor gave the Indians the go-ahead run — hitting an RBI single to drive in Eddie Rosario.
“baseball is a beautiful game because of the struggle and the successes in it,” said Naylor. “You just have to keep grinding, man. That’s just the name of the game, just nose to the grind. Not every day is going to be great. Every day is not going to be perfect. As long as you put in the work behind the scenes, I feel like it’s going to click in a game. I think that’s what we do throughout our whole lineup. Everyone’s working, whether they’re struggling or not.”
Not only have the Indians started to heat up in the month of June — owning a .270/.330/.434 slash line — but so has Ramirez. Four of his six homers this season have come over the last 14 games. After going 1-for-4 on Sunday, the outfielder is batting .326 in 46 at-bats in June.
“I’m feeling really happy about the result that we’re getting,” said Ramirez. “[Also], that I’m able to help the team and contribute with my part. I just try to do my job.”
“It feels excellent,” Ramirez continued when asked about the team’s and his offensive turnaround this month. “It feels, in a way, that everybody’s making the adjustments and always getting the results. So, it feels really good to have a type of backing from the team right now.”
This type of answer, complimenting his entire team and speaking about support, didn’t come as a shock to manager Terry Francona. He has been impressed with the outfielder’s ability, but what most excites the skipper is the intangibles that Ramirez has brought since the Indians claimed him off waivers on Feb. 24 from the Marlins.
“You can tell our guys love him,” said Francona. “[He] brings energy, and he gives you an honest day’s effort. He’s really been really helpful, and so important, to our team. We play him everywhere in the outfield, and he hits everywhere. He just seems to get his barrel to the ball.”