SEATTLE (AP) — José Ramírez was bested by a slider from Andrés Muñoz in a key moment during the first game of Cleveland’s series against the Seattle Mariners.
Given the chance to swing at a fastball two days later, Ramírez didn’t miss.
Ramírez homered and sparked an eighth-inning comeback with an RBI double, Zach Plesac won for the first time since early June and the Guardians rallied for a 4-3 victory Saturday night.
Ramírez hit his 26th homer off Seattle starter Luis Castillo in the fourth, then slapped a 101 mph fastball from Muñoz down the left-field line as part of Cleveland’s three-run eighth.
“You can see how good of stuff Munoz has because (Ramirez) doesn’t hit the ball down the left-field line that often,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s a pretty impressive inning for us because that kid is really, really good.”
How impressive? Seattle was 51-0 this season when leading after seven innings. It was the Mariners’ first loss when ahead going into the eighth since Sept. 7, 2021.
“They put the bat on the ball. They found some holes and they put together an inning. It happens once in a while,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I thought Andrés’ stuff was fine. You do have to give them credit there.”
The big inning started with a walk to Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario’s single. Josh Naylor’s RBI groundout and Andrés Giménez’s sacrifice fly capped the outburst for the AL Central leaders, who remained three games in front of second-place Minnesota.
Cleveland had scored four runs in the first 27 innings of the four-game series, then plated three against one of the top relievers in the American League.
Muñoz (2-5) struck out Ramírez in the eighth inning of Seattle’s 3-1 win on Thursday. The right-hander had not allowed a run in his previous 10 appearances.
“I feel like pitchers when they face me, it’s not necessarily one pitch they stick to in particular. They feel like they try to play with my mind, get in my mind,” Ramirez said through a translator.
The rally handed Plesac (3-11) his first victory since June 5. The right-hander lost his previous seven decisions, but limited the Mariners to three hits over a season-high seven innings and struck out six.
“He competed like crazy and when you look back on it and if he didn’t, we wouldn’t have had a chance,” Francona said.
The one issue for Plesac was that all three hits he gave up left the yard. Eugenio Suárez homered leading off the second inning for his 24th of the season and rookie Julio Rodríguez hit a towering shot in the third for his 21st.
Jake Lamb, who took over at first base after Ty France was ejected, hit his first homer since being traded to his hometown team with a two-out shot in the seventh.
But that was all Seattle could manage. It was the sixth time in major league history a team had three solo homers to account for all its hits. The Mariners were the first team since at least 1901 to have three home runs but no other baserunners.
For Rodríguez, it was his first long ball since signing a massive contract that guarantees him $209.3 million and could be worth up to nearly $470 million over the life of the deal.
James Karinchak pitched the eighth and Emmanuel Clase worked the ninth for his 30th save.
“We pitched well. Those guys capitalized on mistakes I made and the guys came through tonight with the bats late,” Plesac said.
Castillo was dominant for six innings and only a high pitch count ended his night early.
The right-hander allowed a pair of singles to Kwan, Ramírez’s long ball and a single by Naylor. Castillo finished with 10 strikeouts, getting at least one in every inning and striking out the side in the third. His biggest strikeout was whiffing Rosario with runners at first and third to end the fifth.
France was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barrett in the middle of the fifth inning. France had been called out on strikes to end the fourth on a borderline pitch and had words for Barrett. After the top of the fifth, France apparently had more words for Barrett and was tossed.
It was the second straight day Seattle had an ejection, after Jesse Winker and Servais were tossed on Friday.
Mariners: INF/OF Sam Haggerty was able to hit in the batting cage before the game and was available off the bench a day after a bunt attempt hit the fingers on his hand.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.37 ERA) doesn’t have a win since May 20 and hasn’t had a decision in any of his past five starts. Civale allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings in his last start against San Diego.
Mariners: LHP Robbie Ray (10-8, 3.75) looks to continue his excellent August performance. Ray has permitted six earned runs and struck out 34 in 26 innings over four starts this month. He has won his past two starts.
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