Josh Naylor calls his Cleveland Guardians teammate “the best player in baseball.”
He was talking about Jose Ramirez, who had one of those Jose Ramirez games on Friday. He was 3-for-4, with all three hits going for extra bases. He had two doubles and bashed his 16th home run to kick-start Cleveland’s three-run rally in the ninth in its 3-2 victory over the visiting Oakland Athletics on Friday.
“He’s incredibly clutch,” Naylor said. “He has a focus so few players have.”
Ramirez, a three-time All-Star, raised his batting average to .294. He also leads the majors with 56 RBIs.
“He’s dangerous every time up there,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “If he keeps the ball fair, he’ll hurt you.”
Ramirez is known for fouling off a lot of pitches before turning on one he likes.
“If he hits the ball line-to-line, look out,” Francona said.
The third baseman has 16 homers and 16 strikeouts this season. That’s reminiscent of San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, who had 45 homers and struck out just 41 times in 2004.
The Guardians could capture their fourth consecutive series with a win in Saturday’s game. They’ve won nine of their past 11 games, including the first two of the four-game series with the A’s.
Right-hander Zach Plesac (2-4, 4.72) will pitch for Cleveland in Saturday’s game. The A’s will turn to veteran right-hander Frankie Montas (2-6, 3.06) to attempt to snap their 10-game losing streak.
Plesac is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one career start against Oakland.
Montas is 1-2 with a 3.43 ERA in nine career appearances (six starts) against the Guardians, including 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in four games (two starts) at Progressive Field.
First baseman Christian Bethancourt has been swinging a hot bat for the A’s. He was 3-for-4 in the first game of the series, an 8-4 Cleveland win.
Bethancourt homered in the second inning, lined a single in the sixth and doubled in the eighth.
“Bethancourt hit four of the hardest balls we’ve had hit in a game,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said after Thursday’s game. “Shoot, he could have easily had four home runs if he gets a click under those two line drives. He’s really locked in.”
Bethancourt was 1-for-4 Friday with his ninth double of the season. He’s raised his batting average to .245.
Oakland’s Seth Brown and Sean Murphy each hit their sixth home runs of the season on Friday off Guardians starter Triston McKenzie.
The A’s are now 0-5 on the season against Cleveland, even though they hung tough in the first two games of the series.
The A’s have lost 13 of their past 14.
Even though their bullpen blew up in Friday’s loss, the A’s have to be encouraged by the start of Paul Blackburn. The right-hander threw eight shutout innings against Cleveland and allowed four hits and one walk. He struck out three.
He was three outs from his sixth win of the season but was taken out after throwing 101 pitches. His ERA dipped to 2.31.
–Field Level Media