This was either going to be a game recap about the crushing despair of a fourth consecutive loss or the relief from a much-needed victory for the Cleveland Indians. Boy am I glad it turned out to be the latter, all thanks to the ninth-inning heroics of José Ramírez.
It’s no secret that Ramírez has struggled at the plate to start the year, but he has quietly been crawling back to respectability of late. The Indians’ third baseman came into the game having reached base in 16 consecutive games and extended that streak to 17 games with two hits against the White Sox, including the game-winning, two-run, walk-off home run.
The Tribe may have prevailed in the end, 5-3, but victory was never certain. In fact, this one had all the makings of yet another demoralizing loss, as the lineup was barely functional. Prior to the ninth inning, the Indians had only managed to score in the fourth inning, haphazardly plating three runs to take the lead. They seemed to fold up shop after that — even with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning — confident that a 3-1 lead would hold up.
It did not.
Shane Bieber was solid up until the seventh inning. He allowed a line drive home run to Jose Abreu in the third inning, but then retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. Unfortunately, his offspeed pitches stopped fooling anyone the third time through the order. Charlie Tilson singled off a changeup smack dab in the middle of the strike zone, before Tim Anderson followed with a single of his own off a slider that was low and way but caught the corner of the zone. One bunt later, Ryan Cordell tied the game with a two-run single.
Fortunately, Oliver Perez, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand were able to keep the game tied until the ninth inning, when José Ramírez came to the plate with two outs and Francisco Lindor at first base. The home run pitch, courtesy of Kelvin Herrera, looked like this: