Florida? José Ramírez now owns it. Simple as that.
The man who is small in stature but large in dingers came into Tropicana Field and made it his own tonight, with a monster home run and a two-RBI double to help the Guardians beat the Rays, 4-1.
José didn’t need most of the team to win — his three RBI were enough on their own — but he graciously let them help. Steven Kwan was the biggest non-José contributor, with a team-high three hits and some smart baserunning along the way. Owen Miller and Andrés Giménez added doubles as well, their 22nd and 15th on the season, respectively.
Even when Ramírez wasn’t getting on base, he was hitting the ball hard. His two outs were a 96.9 mph flyout in the third inning and a 96.4 mph liner in the first. Not many other Guards batters were able to hit Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs hard, but they were able to draw on enough long at-bats to get him out of the game by the fifth. Kwan and Amed Rosario soaked up a combined 42 pitches at the top of the lineup tonight.
When Ramíez was getting on base, he was running past them. First with this homer in the fifth:
And then this flare job that was technically only a single, but José made it to second with some good ‘ole fashioned hustle:
Put another way: José Ramírez contributed 0.31 win probability tonight, according to FanGraphs. The next closest Guardians were Kwan and Giménez at 0.07 apiece.
Shane Bieber started out shaky but worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the first to turn the outing into one of his best of the season. He finished with eight strikeouts (his fourth-highest total of the season) and went seven innings for the seventh time this season. Maybe he’s not going to win any more Cy Youngs, but the dude is still an absolute workhorse, and he proved it tonight.
Typically a slider-first pitcher this season, Bieber came out with a plan: use four-seamers, and use some more four-seamers. He attacked the battered Rays lineup with low-90s cheddar (would it be swiss if it doesn’t even come close to triple digits? I don’t know), especially when he found himself behind in the count. When he was ahead, the knuckle curve came out to play and induced six misses on eight swings.
The result was just the one run in the first inning and he finished off the night retiring the final 10 batters he faced to set up Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase to close things out in the eighth and ninth innings.
The win marks the Guardians’ third in their last four games. They’ll look to start a winning streak tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET.