WASHINGTON (AP) — José Ramírez drove his first homer of the season into the second deck for a two-run, go-ahead shot in the fifth inning and the Cleveland Guardians erased a deficit for the second consecutive game to beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Saturday.
Ramírez, a four-time AL All-Star with five top-six finishes in MVP voting, had surgery in November to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb but his hitting has been just fine so far: He is first or second on the Guardians in average (.310), RBIs (nine), slugging percentage (..500) and OPS (.923).
Not surprisingly in a game started by two pitchers who came in with zero wins between them and each with an ERA above 8.00, there was plenty of scoring in the early going.
After a rain delay of 1 hour, 40 minutes at the outset, Washington went ahead 3-0 in the first inning off Zach Plesac, with the help of a throwing error by third baseman Ramírez and run-scoring hits by Keibert Ruiz, Jeimer Candelario and Joey Meneses. Ruiz finished with three hits and two RBIs.
The Nationals led 3-0 after four innings Friday, before while their bullpen gave it all away in a 4-3 victory for Cleveland.
Plesac (1-0) would end up going five innings and giving up four runs, two earned.
Nationals righty Chad Kuhl (0-1) allowed five earned runs on seven hits and three walks — each of which came on four pitches. The big blow was off the bat of Ramírez, who connected with a 3-0 slider after Amed Rosario tripled for one of his two hits.
That was Ramírez’s 193rd homer with Cleveland, putting him one ahead of Al Rosen and alone in 10th place in franchise history. Hall of Famer Jim Thome holds the club mark with 337.
Former Nationals player Josh Bell tacked on an insurance run with his second double of the day in the ninth.
Myles Straw had three singles, two RBIs and one of Cleveland’s three stolen bases — raising the team total to 24 in 15 games in 2023.
After Plesac exited, four relievers finished up with four scoreless innings.
James Karinchak got out of a runners-on-the-corners jam by striking out Lane Thomas and CJ Abrams to end the eighth, and Emmanuel Clase threw a perfect ninth for his fifth save in six chances.