Thrown out on reviewed play in 6th, Tribe star legs out double in 10th to spark walk-off
By William Kosileski
CLEVELAND -- With the Indians' historic winning streak on the line on Thursday night, Jose Ramirez stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the 10th inning in a 2-2 tie with the Royals at Progressive Field. Just as he has done all season, the second baseman gave the Indians the jolt they needed.
Against Royals reliever Brandon Maurer, Ramirez jumped on a 1-1 fastball, drove it to the gap in right-center and hustled out his MLB-leading 50th double to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Ramirez came around to score the winning run on Jay Bruce's walk-off double in the 3-2 win that extended Cleveland's roll to 22 straight games -- the second longest-winning streak in baseball history.
"This guy, he plays the game literally with his hair on fire," Jay Bruce said in a postgame interview with SportsTime Ohio. "I know there's a shirt and stuff. I mean, he's been amazing. He's a sparkplug with Francisco [Lindor] at the top there. He does it all. He's amazing."
While the two-bagger capped off a 4-for-4 night at the plate for Ramirez -- two singles, two doubles and a walk -- it was the American League MVP candidate's baserunning on the double that stood out to his skipper.
"His baserunning on that play," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "he rounded first under control, took a real good [turn], rounded the bag and then probably got down to about 85 or 90 [percent]. And then he saw where the throw was going and gave himself a chance. He's not out of control. It was really good baserunning."
Even with the brief change of speed on the basepaths, Ramirez's dash was his second-fastest home-to-second of the season, clocking in at 7.78 seconds, according to Statcast™.
"I didn't think it was going to be a double," Ramirez said through team translator Anna Bolton. "But then I saw the center fielder slow down a little bit, and so since I'm aggressive, I just legged it out and I knew that I had a good chance to execute it."
In Ramirez's standout performance, he notched his 47th multi-hit game of the season (which ranks seventh in the AL) and his 19th three-hit game (tied for third in the Majors). Ramirez's 50 doubles are the most by an Indians player since Grady Sizemore had 53 in 2006.
In addition, Ramirez is only the third player in franchise history to have at least 50 doubles and 80 extra-base hits in a single season, joining Albert Belle (1995) and Tris Speaker (1923).
"He brings it every day," said Bruce, who has been Ramirez's teammate since Aug. 9 when he was acquired from the Mets. "He really does. He is the energy you want to have when you play the game. And there are certain guys who have that."
The only time that the Royals were able to retire Ramirez came in the sixth inning, when he was thrown out trying to steal second after drawing a leadoff walk. It initially appeared that Ramirez had stolen the base easily, but after his head-first slide into the bag, Kansas City's Whit Merrifield held the tag on Ramirez's left hand as he came off the base, resulting in an out.
A chorus of boos from the capacity crowd at Progressive Field rained down after the call, and Francona challenged.
However, interference on plays like that is not reviewable, so replay officials could only look at whether Ramirez lost contact with the base. After reviewing all angles of the play, the call on the field was confirmed.
"It's a judgment call," Francona said. "I knew he came off the bag. I went and looked at it. I just told [the umpires], I said, 'I want you to go look at that and then tell me you don't think he swiped him off the bag.' I knew they weren't going to change it, I just wanted them to have to go look at it."
The caught-stealing did not take away from Ramirez's night, though. In fact, he has been one of the catalysts for Cleveland's lineup in its remarkable winning streak. In the 22 games, he has a slash line of .423/.474/.944 with eight homers, 11 doubles, one triple, 14 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
"He doesn't care who's on the mound," Bruce said. "He doesn't care who we're playing. He doesn't care if he's 0-for-20 or if he's 20-for-20. He's bringing the same thing every single time. And it's been awesome to watch."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.