Backed by the bat of José Ramírez and another solid outing from starting pitcher Jefry Rodriguez, the Cleveland Indians defeated the Miami Marlins 6-2, in spite of an anemic offense that was absent for the most of the afternoon before coming alive in the late innings.
José Ramírez homered in the first inning and then added an RBI single in the third en route to an early 2-0 lead for the Tribe. For seven innings, it seemed as if those two runs would be enough to put away the Marlins, in large part because of Rodriguez’s performance on the mound.
It was a favorable matchup for Rodriguez against a Marlins lineup that has not fared well against right-handed pitching this season. He certainly made the most of it, allowing three hits, two walks, and one run over seven innings of work. Rodriguez hammered Miami with his two-seam fastball, striking out three but inducing at least a dozen groundouts.
But it appeared to be for naught in the eighth inning, when Martín Prado homered off the railing in left field — with Nick Wittgren on the mound in relief — to tie the game. It had all the makings of a frustrating loss after an afternoon of ineptitude at the plate for most of the Indians’ lineup.
In the fifth inning, with their lead cut to one run, the Tribe put runners at first and second with no outs after a Mike Freeman walk and a Francisco Lindor single to shallow center. I repeat, RUNNERS AT FIRST AND SECOND WITH NO OUTS. Naturally, Leonys Martin offered the Marlins a free out with a sac bunt. Miami intentionally walked José Ramírez to load the bases for Carlos Santana, who fouled off five pitches before being fooled on a changeup for strike three. Carlos Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning, stranding all three baserunners. But at least Freeman and Lindor were standing on second and third.
The Indians threatened again in the sixth, when Kevin Plawecki doubled to the corner in right field with one out and then advanced to third on a passed ball. Jake Bauers struck out before Max Moroff, pinch-hitting for Freeman, was able to draw a two-out walk. With runners at the corners, Lindor popped out to first. But the offensive ineptitude didn’t end there.
With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, the Indians once again had RUNNERS AT FIRST AND SECOND WITH NO OUTS. And what did they do? BUNTED. Or at least attempted to. Kevin Plawecki couldn’t get the bunt down and popped out to the pitcher, failing to advance the runners. Thankfully, Jake Bauers lined a shot through the left side of the infield to score Carlos Gonzalez from second base, re-taking the lead. Max Moroff followed with a strikeout, but Francisco Lindor picked him up with an RBI single to extend the Indians’ lead. José Ramírez capped the inning with an exclamation point, scoring two on a double to right field.
Brad Hand nailed it down in the ninth to secure the much-needed victory.