CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona showed off his skills as a prognosticator before Wednesday’s game against Miami.
Asked about Jose Ramirez’s slow start to the season, which saw the AL MVP candidate the last two seasons batting .157 with one homer and five RBIs, Francona said, “I’m telling you, he’s going to be fine.”
Ramirez proved Francona correct in Cleveland’s 6-2 victory. The switch-hitting third baseman hit a solo homer in the first, had an RBI single in the third and added a two-run double in the eighth, when the Indians broke open a tie game.
Francona has kept Ramirez at the top of the order despite his struggles. While one game certainly doesn’t mean the problems at the plate are over, Francona is convinced that better days are ahead for Ramirez.
“He’s a great hitter,” Francona said. “Guys go through tough times. You’re going to look up and he’s going to be among the league leaders. It’ll be fun to watch.”
Ramirez, speaking through a translator, said he hasn’t gotten discouraged.
“I always stay confident,” he said. “I understand baseball is ups and downs and I can only worry about what I can control, which is to play hard. That’s what I do: go out and play hard every time.”
Jake Bauers’ eighth-inning single scored the go-ahead run.
Martin Prado’s two-out homer for Miami tied the game in the top of the eighth tied the game, but the Indians responded by scoring four times to snap a three-game losing streak.
Adam Conley (0-3) walked Carlos Gonzalez to begin the eighth. Jason Kipnis singled, but Kevin Plawecki popped up his bunt attempt, which was caught by Conley.
Bauers slapped a ground ball through the open left side of the infield to score Gonzalez. Francisco Lindor’s two-out single off Tayron Guerrero added another run. Leonys Martin was hit by a pitch and Ramirez doubled into the right field corner.
Conley retired two of the five batters he faced and was charged with three runs. The left-hander blamed himself for the loss.
“I came into the game with it tied,” he said. “My job is to hang a zero and I didn’t do that.”
Cleveland led 2-1 heading into the eighth, but Prado homered off Nick Wittgren. The ball hit the railing above the 19-foot wall in left field and Prado’s first home run of the season was upheld after a video review.
Wittgren (1-0) struck out two in the eighth.
Cleveland starter Jefry Rodriguez allowed one run in seven innings. The right-hander, called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game, made his second spot start in place of Mike Clevinger, who is on the injured list with an upper back strain.
Rodriguez held Miami to three hits, struck out three and walked one. Jon Berti’s sacrifice fly scored Miami’s first run, which came in the fifth.
Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara allowed two runs, one earned, in five innings.
Lindor was the designated hitter after playing three games at shortstop since returning from an ankle injury.
The Indians received some good news before the game. Pitcher Carlos Carrasco said he’ll make his next start, which comes Sunday against Houston. He injured his left knee when he fell covering first base in the fourth inning Tuesday. Carrasco left the game before the fifth, but an MRI showed no serious injury.
SEE YOU SOON
Rodriguez was optioned back to Columbus following the game, but with Clevinger out for several weeks, it’s likely he’ll back in the near future. The Indians will need a fifth starter again May 7.
“I know it’s out of my hands and I just keep putting in the work and they will have to make the decision,” Rodriguez said. “But so far, just feeling great with what I’m doing.”
Right-hander Jose Quijada made his major league debut in the sixth with Miami trailing 2-1. He struck out two, walked one and gave up a hit in two-thirds of an inning.
“Truly, I felt really happy,” he said. “That’s what I wanted, a really close game, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Marlins: RHP Austin Brice (gastroenteritis) began a rehab assignment at Single-A Jupiter, throwing one scoreless inning Tuesday at Palm Beach.
Indians: RHP Cody Anderson was optioned to Columbus to make room for Rodriguez.
Marlins: Miami begins a four-game series in Philadelphia on Thursday night. LHP Caleb Smith (2-0, 2.35) pitches the opener.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (2-1, 2,20 ERA) starts the opener of a four-game series Thursday night in Houston.