Tribe sweeps Sox to tighten AL Central race
CLEVELAND — The speculation of the Indians’ struggling offense has been ongoing since the season got underway in July. Every time the Tribe’s bats seemed to be catching fire, the momentum would be extinguished. Backed by a spark plug in José Ramírez, Cleveland may finally be finding its offensive stride
CLEVELAND — The speculation of the Indians’ struggling offense has been ongoing since the season got underway in July. Every time the Tribe’s bats seemed to be catching fire, the momentum would be extinguished. Backed by a spark plug in José Ramírez, Cleveland may finally be finding its offensive stride at the perfect time.
The Indians were fresh off of back-to-back victories on walk-off home runs entering the series finale against the White Sox. Just when it looked like they’d be counted out for the series sweep with a three-run deficit in the seventh, Cesar Hernandez and Ramírez provided the timely two-out RBI hits that lifted the Tribe to a 5-4 win over Chicago on Thursday night at Progressive Field.
The four-game sweep has moved the Indians to just one game behind the second-place White Sox in the American League Central with three games to play. The Sox return to Chicago on Friday to face the Cubs, while the Indians will host the Pirates for their final series of the regular season.
The White Sox broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh with a three-run frame. But the Indians answered in the bottom half with three consecutive singles from pinch-hitters Josh Naylor, Tyler Naquin and Mike Freeman to load the bases. After two outs, Hernandez delivered a two-run single to cut the Tribe’s deficit to one, leaving runners on the corners for Ramírez.
Over his previous 12 games, Ramírez has made a strong push for the AL MVP Award, hitting .426 with eight homers, 18 RBIs and a 1.502 OPS in that span. He’s logged two multihomer contests in the past week and launched the playoff-clinching walk-off blast on Tuesday. On Thursday, he became the hero yet again with the go-ahead two-run double off the left-center-field wall.
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Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.