J-Ram breaks a Cleveland record held by the legendary Larry Doby

1:49 AM UTC

CLEVELAND — If the Guardians are hoping that José Ramírez can bust out of his slump, there’s no better opponent to have in town than the Tigers.

Ramírez’s dominance against Detroit continued on Monday, as he hit a deciding solo shot in the sixth inning to lift Cleveland to a 2-1 victory at Progressive Field. Ramírez now has the most go-ahead homers in franchise history (87), breaking a tie with Larry Doby.

“What else can this guy do?” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said of Ramírez. “He seems to come up night after night after night for us when we need something. When we can’t really get anything going, he steps up and answers the call.”

Ramírez was the hero on Sunday against the Angels, ending a 10-pitch at-bat with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning. This time, Ramírez needed seven pitches for a similar result: A go-ahead solo shot in the sixth.

This seems like a step forward for the All-Star third baseman who has gotten off to a slower-than-usual start. Two weeks ago, the Guardians hoped that Ramírez’s 10-pitch at-bat that ended in a grand slam would be his slump buster. Instead, he fell back into his struggles and experienced an 0-for-19 stretch in that span.

So to see Ramírez build upon a 10-pitch homer on Sunday, it can only mean he’s moving in the right direction. Anyone in the building for the series finale against the Angels over the weekend could see the pent up frustration that he was feeling. Once he launched the ball over the wall, he spiked his bat into the ground behind him just as he was approaching first base.

“I come every day to compete,” Ramírez said through Nelson Perez, the team’s assistant strength coach who served as an interpreter. “I’m trying to do my best. When I threw my bat like that, it was because I was a little bit frustrated because in previous at-bats, I haven’t been hitting the ball very well without luck. So finally, I feel that I’m getting on time and I want to continue to put up good at-bats to continue to help my team.”

Ramírez entered the night hitting just .230 with a .694 OPS (100 OPS+). His chase rate has been uncharacteristically high, but he’s still managed to limit his strikeouts. He’s not taking walks at the same rate he has in the past, but his manager is starting to see signs that he’s starting to settle in.

“He’s been hitting the ball hard,” Vogt said. “The numbers may not look great, but the amount of hard-hit outs that he has, if a few of those fall, we’re not talking about him [gaining] traction or anything. I think for me, the last couple of days, the consistency of the pitches he’s swinging at are better. He was chasing a little bit early. But man, I feel good every time he steps into the box no matter what it says on the scoreboard.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s stepping into the box against Detroit right now. No player in the Majors does as much damage against the Tigers as Ramírez. He entered the night hitting .300 with a .947 OPS against the division foe. Ramírez’s 29 homers against them are the most among active hitters in the Majors. His 110 RBIs and 64 walks entering the night ranked second and his 35 doubles were tied for third.

“I think there’s always a place you like to play or a team that it just feels right,” Vogt said. “I think it’s kind of coincidence, but it does happen where certain people like playing against certain teams.”

Despite his recent struggles, Ramírez has still been a leader for this offense. He may not have the numbers he’d like at this point in the year, but he entered Monday with a .375 average and 1.319 OPS in situations with two outs and runners in scoring position. In late and close scenarios, he’s still hit .273 with a .794 OPS.

“I think that’s just a testament to who he is as a player,” Guardians starter Triston McKenzie said. “He’s someone [who’s] consistent, he’s reliable and whether that’s at the plate or in the field, that’s what you want out of your superstar.”

And Ramírez has two more games against the Tigers to help the momentum continue to move back in his favor.

“He’s just a special, special player that Cleveland has been lucky to have for this long,” Vogt said. “And for the future.”