The Home Run Derby isn’t until Monday but José Ramírez decided to put on a demonstration for the crowd at Progressive Field on Saturday, slugging two home runs in the first two innings to help the Cleveland Guardians clobber the Detroit Tigers, 10-0, for a third consecutive win.
Ramírez entered the game needing five RBI to pull ahead of New York Mets first baseman (and two-time defending Home Run Derby champ) Pete Alonso for the league lead and he got all of them in the first two innings thanks to a three-run homer and a two-run homer as the Guardians opened up an 8-0 lead against Tigers starter Michael Pineda.
Pineda looked like he was pitching batting practice, and with a bullpen game on tap for Detroit on Sunday, manager A.J. Hinch seemed hesitant to give him the hook.
In the first inning, Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario reached on back-to-back singles before Ramírez delivered the first of his two home runs to give Cleveland a 3-0 lead.
The next inning, the bottom of the order got things started as Nolan Jones and Luke Maile went back-to-back to put runners on first and third with no outs. Myles Straw, who came to the plate slashing .364/.432/.424 over his last 10 games, doubled off the wall in right-center to score Jones. After Kwan fouled out on a circus catch by Harold Castro at third base, Rosario lined an RBI double to deep center field to score both Maile and Straw and make it 6-0. Ramírez put the finishing touches on the inning with a two-run homer to right field.
Against Tigers reliever Angel De Jesus in the fourth inning, Josh Naylor kicked off another burst of runs with a solo home run. Jones made it a 10-0 lead for the Guardians with an RBI single to center field three batters later, scoring Andrés Giménez from third base.
On the mound for Cleveland, Cal Quantrill pitched six shutout innings, even as his fastball command seemed to come and go at times. With the Guardians’ lineup effectively putting the game out of reach early for the Tigers, he didn’t have to break much of a sweat through six innings of work, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out five.
Nick Sandlin pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out a pair. Since returning from a demotion to Triple-A Columbus to work on his command issues, he has not issued a walk in five straight relief appearances. James Karinchak took care of the eighth inning, also recording a pair of strikeouts, and Tanner Tully worked the ninth to preserve the shutout.
A week removed from getting swept by the Tigers in a four-game series, the Guardians now have the opportunity to return the favor on Sunday with Shane Bieber on the mound.