Photo: Lincoln Horsley José Ramírez continues to show why he has a case for being the best baseball player on the planet right now, Andrés Giménez hit a three-run moon […]
Photo: Lincoln Horsley
José Ramírez continues to show why he has a case for being the best baseball player on the planet right now, Andrés Giménez hit a three-run moon shot in the bottom of the eighth to give the Guardians a lead and a rebound outing by Zach Plesac were the main storylines in the Guardians 7-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Guardians (20-24) 7 – Royals (16-31) 3. WP: Nick Sandlin (4-2), LP: Collin Snider (3-2),
Best hitter on the planet?
There’s been no doubt about this season. José Ramírez has been worth every penny of his seven-year deal. He’s been worth even more than that with the season he is having. Ramírez added to his MLB lead in runs batted in by picking up number 49, 50 and 51 in the game, with the last two coming on a 2-run homer in the fifth inning off of Kansas City starter Jonathan Heasley. He hit an RBI single in the first inning on the first pitch he saw.
“How about his first pitch of the game?” Manager Terry Francona asked. “You can’t see cause because the sun makes the field light to dark. He gets a first pitch breaking ball. Hits it to right field.”
With his 50th RBI, Ramírez became the second player in franchise history to reach 50 RBI in 44 games or fewer, with the other being Manny Ramirez in 1999, who set the club record that year with 162. Right now, José Ramírez is on pace for 192 RBI. José has also been on some sort of stretch the last week. Over the last seven games, Ramírez has 14 RBI, four home runs, three doubles, a triple and is batting .370. If that isn’t a case for American League Player of the Week, I don’t know what is. Francona credits Ramírez’ high baseball IQ as one the biggest reasons to his success.
“I say it all the time, I don’t know if people know how baseball smart he is,” Francona praised. “You can’t be this good without being ultra-intelligent about what they’re trying to do to you and stuff like that.”
He has the lowest strikeout rate in the majors, striking out just 7.8% of the time. Not to mention, he’s fourth in OPS at 1.039, third in slugging percentage with .648, tied for fourth in the majors with 13 home runs and tied for the lead in triples with four. To add even more to this already impressive stretch, he’s the first player since Miguel Cabrera in 2013 to have at least 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 50 RBI in a team’s first 44 games of the season. Just a reminder that MLB All-Star voting also starts on June 3rd.
“He’s obviously extremely talented,” Francona said. “He’s every bit as smart about the game as he is talented.”
Gonzalez continues strong start
To the delight of many, Oscar Gonzalez made his debut with Cleveland this past Friday in Detroit. He’s now played four games for the Guardians, and all he’s done is hit. He has seven hits through his first four games, getting at least two in three of them and picked up another two-hit night Monday.
He is the ninth Guardian this season to make his major league debut and while his was one that was wanted by fans, it was not expected by many who cover the team. In fact, according to our prospect rankings, he’s only ranked 34th in the Guardians system. However, he continues to blow by the expectations of many and continues to hit. In fact, not many even expected him to be with the system since he would have been exposed to the Rule 5 draft this past December, had one taken place. Yet here he is, already making an impact in the lineup in the absence of Franmil Reyes. He’s been handling himself very well, although his teammates as well as Francona did poke fun at him for throwing a ball into the stands to a fan while there were only two outs.
“I asked him “Hey man I haven’t been in Triple-A in a while, do they still use three outs down there?” Francona asked. “I think he’s the kind of kid that will learn from it because you need to.”
Every rookie has their rookie moment, but Francona is confident in Gonzalez and knows he can bounce back from a mistake like that.
“He’s a good kid. He’s a really good kid and it’s noticeable right away.”
Plesac’s solid outing
One talking point about the Guardians over the past few weeks is some of the pitching perfromances that Zach Plesac was having. Going into Monday’s game, Plesac was 1-4 with 5.40 ERA and was just coming off one of the worst starts in his career with the Guardians as he went just 4.2 innings against the Astros while giving up seven runs on seven hits. He had given up a home run in five consecutive starts and just like the majority of the pitching staff, his velocity was down. There were some concerns about Plesac and what would happen if he didn’t have a bounce back performance.
“The biggest takeaway from my last start was just execution,” Plesac said. “That comes from feeling comfortable with how I’m moving. We put in a lot of work the first three starts of the season and felt like we were in a really good place.”
Well, to the fortunate of many, Plesac had a solid outing against the Royals. He went six innings, giving up just one run on five hits, and although the one hit was a home run, making it six consecutive starts giving up a home run, he looked much more comfortable in his approach. His curveball, which is a pitch he doesn’t throw that much at just 10.2 percent of the time, was thrown seven times on the night and it did pretty well as he got an average break of 8 inches on each curveball. It’s a pitch Plesac wants to work more into his arsenal.
“My curveball, with all the numbers and stuff we’ve seen with the bullpen has been really good,” Plesac said. “It’s an above average pitch, and I just want to execute it. I know it comes down to being comfortable.”
People can look at it and say, “well it was the Royals” and while that is true, you need a performance like this to get back on track, no matter who the opponent is.
After a stretch that seemed like he could hit anything in which he had 22 hits in 17 games, Andrés Giménez went into a cold streak. In his defense, the whole team outside of Ramírez did as well. Giménez was three for his last 25 before stepping up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth. Already 0-2 and with two men on with the game tied at three, Giménez knew that with one swing, he could turn that all around. With a full count, Collin Snider threw a sinker that dropped right into the right middle of the strike zone, right where Giménez’ hot spot is, and crushed the ball deep over the center field wall to make it 6-3.
“After the first pitch was a ball, so after that I was ready to hit and bring in a run no matter what,” Giménez said.”
“It’s great. It’s amazing,” Giménez said. “Especially because it’s helping the team win and that’s the most important thing.”
Royals monarch’s kept in check
The Royals have not been the same team they won the World Series in 2015. The only people who still remain even from their 2016 squad is Whitt Merrifield and Salvador Perez. Neither of them has hit particularly well this season, but Merrifield is a career .257 hitter against Cleveland and Perez has hit 16 homers and 62 RBI in 122 games against Cleveland. The two were a combined 1-9 with Merrifield getting an RBI double during the game. The only Royals who were a threat in the hitting department were Nicky Lopez who went 3-4 and has six hits in five games against Cleveland this season and Andrew Benintendi, who is currently batting .329 in the season, the eighth best in the majors.