Image: USA Today

It was dollar dog and firework night Friday at Progressive Field, but the real show was put on by José Ramírez and Aaron Civale, as both players put on stellar performances in leading the Guardians to a 6-1 victory at home over the Detroit Tigers, ending their 3-game losing streak.

Guardians (17-19) 6 – Tigers (13-26) #. WP: Aaron Civale (2-3), LP: Jacon Barnes (3-1)

Jose’s Leg is Just Fine

Few thing can stop José Ramírez. Injuries apparently aren’t one of them. On Thursday against the Reds, Ramírez fouled a pitch off right below his knee. He was shaken up by the play and took a couple of minutes to regather himself before finishing the at-bat. What did he do after that? He singled home a run to cut the lead to two. He was then taken out of the game as a precaution. 

Before Friday’s game against Detroit, X-ray scans came back negative, and everyone in the Guardians organization and fanbase breathed a sigh of relief. Acting manager DeMarlo Hale said before the game that Ramírez would play and that he would be monitored and taken out as a precaution if need be. 

“There was a chance when we arrived at the ballpark that I wouldn’t play,” Ramírez said. “We wanted to see how we did in practice.”

If you watched Friday’s game without knowing that Ramírez was hurt, you probably thought he was fine, because he may have had his best performance in over a month. 

In his first at-bat,  Ramírez launched a ball 105 mph off the bat that went over the head of Derek Hill in center, as José raced around the bases and legged it out for his third triple of the season. His defensive abilities weren’t affected either as he made multiple plays with his glove over at third base, including an unassisted double play after Jonathan Schoop lined out to him, then stepping on third to get the second out. 

However, it was the sixth inning where Ramírez made his biggest impact. With a 1-0 lead and two men on, Ramírez smoked a pitch 106 miles per hour off his bat and landed just left of the foul pole in right field for a three-run home run, to make him the league leader in RBI with 37 and give the Guardians a 4-0 lead. Hale gave an update after the game on Ramírez.

“He’s feeling pretty good,” Hale said. “I told him earlier if something started to bother him to let me know. He gave me a thumbs up and there’s no reason to worry about him when he gives me that.”

Civale Turns in Season Best Outing

If every game Aaron Civale pitched was against the Detroit Tigers, he might be the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. Civale, who had given up at least four runs in all of his six previous starts, was lights out Friday night in front of 23,874 fans, the second-largest crowd at Progressive Field this season, going 6.2 innings, giving up one run, which was unearned, on three hits while striking out three and walking one. His velocity was the highest it’s been all season, with his sinker averaging 93.1, easily beating out his yearly average of 90.5. His best pitch all season, his curveball, was once again effective as he had a whiff rate of 21% on the 25 curveballs he threw during his start. With the win, Aaron Civale now moves to 7-0 all-time against the Tigers in eight appearances, with an earned run average of 1.96 and 39 strikeouts. 

“He was pretty good,” DeMarlo Hale said. “I think the three-pitch mix that he had worked. Him and Hedgey went to that breaking ball a little bit in key situations. Very good outing for him.”

However, Civale had to leave in the seventh inning after experiencing a “left glute cramp.” Hale reassured that Civale was ok.

 “He’s feeling good,” Hale said. “Just a cramp. When he fell there, I didn’t want to take any chances with where he was at in the game, so we thought it was best to get him out of the game.”

4 Is Their Number

Statistics will tell that if a team can score four runs, their chance of winning is significantly improved. As it turns out, two was all they needed as the Tigers were held to one run on the night, which made it 21 out of 39 games that the Tigers were held to two or less runs, the worst in the MLB this season. The Guardians pushed six runs across the plate Friday, with four of them coming in the sixth inning. In fact, all six runs came against the Tigers bullpen as Tarik Skubal left the game in the fifth inning after getting hit in the leg with a comebacker. The Guardians move to 14-5 in games they’ve scored four or more runs in. For good measure, the Guardians pushed two more runs across the plate in the eighth to give them six on the night.

“Those two runs were huge,” Hale pointed out. “They battled; they went the other way. They made some good decisions and were able to get those runs.”

De Los Santos Establishing His Role

The plight of the Guardians bullpen the last few games has been an area of concern for anyone watching, as it seemed like the Guardians would get great outings from their starters. However, when the bullpen came in, runs started to add up. That wasn’t the case Friday night, as one reliever is starting to really establish himself over his last few appearances. That reliever is Enyel De Los Santos. He came in relief of Civale in the seventh, and went 1.2 innings, giving up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out two on 20 pitches.

 “He came in and pounded the strike zone with his fastball,” Hale said. “He kept throwing the ball, getting outs and was able to close out the night.”

De Los Santos has made five appearances in the month of May. Across those 5.1 innings, De Los Santos has allowed just one run on two hits, walked four and struck out seven. While each Cleveland reliever has had some rough outings recently, that has not been the case for the 26-year-old right-hander. 

Straw and Rosario Combine for Five Hits

With Steven Kwan out of the lineup due to the Tigers throwing out a left-handed pitcher, Amed Rosario was slid back into the two-spot, where he was for near the entirety of the 2021 season. Amed went 2-4 on the night with two RBI and two runs, his seventh multi-hit game of the season. Rosario really likes the idea of the two-hole because of being behind Straw and in front of Ramírez.

“It’s really comfortable,” Rosario said, “knowing you have the speed in front of you and the power behind me. It makes it easier for me.”

 Myles Straw had arguably his best night in the month of May, as he went 3-4 with a double and two runs scored, giving him 26 runs scored on the season, good for fifth in the American League. Straw also recorded three or more hits for the third time this season, with the other two coming against the Reds on April 13 and the Oakland Athletics on April 29. 

Summer Vibes

 The Guardians had been so used to playing home games where the highest temperate all season was 64 degrees, so when today’s forecast called for a game-time temperature of 84 degrees, it had to feel good for them. Combine that with the fact it was the first dollar dog night and post-game firework show of the season, with a crowd of 23,874 in attendance, the second largest of the season so far. This was the first game that had that summer feel that the Guardians have had in Cleveland this season, and Ramírez was thrilled with the energy and support that the crowd gave them. 

“Really excited to get that extra motivation and to hear the cheers and the crowd noise,” Ramírez said.”

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