Ramirez homers twice as Indians rattle Reds 19-4
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jose Ramirez is skipping the Home Run Derby. He’s not missing much else right now.
Ramirez homered twice to match Albert Belle’s club record for home runs before the All-Star break and the Cleveland Indians took out some frustrations following a brutal loss with a 19-4 thumping of the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Tyler Mahle (7-7) and connected for a three-run shot in Cleveland’s nine-run third. With the Indians up 17-0, the All-Star third baseman was replaced in the fifth inning by manager Terry Francona before he could inflict further damage.
“He’s a monster,” Francona said of Ramirez. “And he’s getting better.”
Ramirez was invited to participate in Monday’s home-run contest, the signature event of All-Star festivities. However, the 25-year-old, who was voted a starter for the second straight year, declined a chance to take his cuts against Bryce Harper and others next week in Washington D.C.
He’s got bigger swings to make.
“I sat down with the team and we made a decision, all of us together, and we just decided it wasn’t the best thing for me to do at this time,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “It’s a long season. I’m a player that plays every day and I need to save energy for the second half and, God willing, the playoffs as well.”
Francona said Ramirez had the team’s blessing if he wanted to take part. And if he had, Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor was betting on his teammate.
“I had him winning the Derby, believe it or not,” said Lindor, who added a three-run homer in the fourth. “I had him going all the way to the finals. I truly believe in his bat. I truly believe in his bat control. Believe it or not, the Derby right now is not about how strong you are. It’s about who has the most bat control and I think Josey is one of the best at that.
“I think he had a really good chance of winning.”
Jason Kipnis also homered as the Indians salvaged the interleague series finale by pounding their neighbors from southern Ohio and ending a four-game slide.
For the Indians, it was a much-needed rebound after they squandered a 4-0 lead in the ninth on Tuesday night, when Francona’s miscommunication with pitching coach Carl Willis on a choice of relievers helped the Reds rally for seven runs and stun the Indians.
“It was terrific — on a lot of fronts,” Francona said. “I think they tried to take me out of it, which is OK. We struck early and we kept going.”
Carlos Carrasco (10-5) reached 1,000 career strikeouts, and given the humongous lead, coasted through five innings for his second straight win since coming off the disabled list. Adam Plutko worked four innings for his first career save.
Jesse Winker and Scooter Gennett homered for the Reds.
“It feels like a couple of losses when you get beat that bad,” said Cincinnati interim manager Jim Riggleman. “But it’s a loss and unfortunately some guys’ personal numbers get affected. But other than that we’ll shake it off, and take the day off and go get them in St. Louis.”
Lindor connected in the fourth for his 25th homer. The Indians said Ramirez and Lindor are the first pair of teammates under 25 to hit at least 25 homers before the break.
“It’s a pretty good tandem right there,” Francona said. “They do it in a little different ways. But they’re switch-hitters. They’re both on that side of the infield, and they’re young and they are really good.”
Reds third baseman Alex Blandino made his major league pitching debut in the eighth. He allowed one hit and struck out two.
“I always thought it was fun to pitch,” Blandino said of his first stint on the mound since he was a high school senior. “I think it went pretty well. I was happy just to get out of the inning. I was trying to throw strikes.”
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey (right knee), who has been on the disabled list since June 2, will make two more rehab starts with Triple-A Louisville. Bailey has made five rehab appearances, including four starts. After one relief appearance, general manager Nick Krall said the team decided it was “best if we left him as a starter,” and that Bailey will rejoin the Reds’ rotation when he completes his rehab stint.
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller threw 39 pitches off the Progressive Field mound, a significant step in his recovery from knee inflammation. The club’s top reliever has been out since May 26. Next for Miller is facing hitters, and the Indians hope to have the left-hander match up with some minor leaguers this weekend before they consider activating him after the All-Star break.
Reds: Following an off day, RHP Matt Harvey opens a three-game series in St. Louis against right-hander Carlos Martinez. Harvey has been something of a good luck charm as Cincinnati was just 8-27 before he was acquired on May 8.
Indians: In a matchup of two of baseball’s best, Corey Kluber (12-4) starts the opener of a four-game series against New York and Yankees ace Luis Severino (14-2). Kluber is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven career regular-season starts against the Bronx Bombers.