The Cleveland Indians will be playing baseball in October and they have José Ramírez to thank for it. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the tenth inning with two outs and runners on first and second, Ramírez crushed a home run pitch from José Ruiz and deposited it into the right field stands to rally past the Chicago White Sox and clinch a postseason berth.
JOSE RAMIREZ WALKS THE @INDIANS OFF AND STRAIGHT INTO THE POSTSEASON!!!!!!!!!!!#OURTRIBE pic.twitter.com/G6kzCbCnnO— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) September 23, 2020
The Tribe seemed doom to an extra-innings loss when Phil Maton broke the 1-1 tie in the tenth inning by surrendering a run-scoring triple to Adam Engel and then allowing the White Sox to tack on an insurance run with an RBI single from Nick Madrigal. But with two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Francisco Lindor doubled home the runner at second — missing a home run by inches — to cut the deficit to 3-2. César Hernández followed with a walk and Ramírez took care of the rest.
That José, so hot right now. His game-winning three-run homer was the American League MVP candidate’s fourth home run in three games. He entered Tuesday night slashing .463/.488/1.073 over his last 10 games. Ramírez is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now and if he can keep this up, the Tribe will be trouble for any first round team.
Cal Quantrill, making the spot start to push back Shane Bieber and set him up for a Game 1 start next week, was virtually unhittable. I don’t know about you, but I did not see that coming. He surrendered a leadoff infield single to Tim Anderson to start the game but erased him with an inning-ending double play, retiring 11 of the final 12 batters he faced and recording four strikeouts. Quantrill was supposed to be capped at 55 pitches, but pitched four scoreless innings using only 38 pitches — and nearly half of them were called or swinging strikes. It was an extremely efficient and effective start, and perhaps puts Quantrill in the conversation for a starting role down the road.
Then Adam Plutko took the mound, presumably because he hadn’t pitched in nearly two weeks, needed some work, and the best situation to do so was in a 1-0 game that could clinch a postseason berth. He proceeded to load the bases with one out, but managed to escape on an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play. Unfortunately he was not so lucky the following inning, allowing Jose Abreu to tie the game on a 105.4 mph shot into the stands in right field. To his credit, that was the lone blemish for Plutko over three innings of work.
The Indians’ lineup did not give their bullpen much margin for error through the first nine innings. César Hernández’s solo homer off White Sox starter Reynaldo López in the first inning gave the Tribe an early 1-0 lead, but efforts to add insurance runs failed. It descended into a battle of the bullpens following López’s exit after five innings, with Óliver Pérez and Nick Wittgren holding the line for the Tribe in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
Also, umpire Ángel Hernández had an objectively brutal night behind the plate, and at one point I thought the White Sox were going to strangle him during a commercial break.