The Cleveland Indians, winners of two straight, need two more victories to avoid their first losing season since 2012. Their quest continues Saturday when they face the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
The Indians (79-81) benefited from two big innings on Friday to post a 9-6 win over the Rangers (59-101) in the opener of the season-ending series.
Jose Ramirez ripped a two-run single to cap the Indians’ four-run third inning, and then added an RBI single as part of a five-run fourth. Ramirez’s multi-hit performance was his fourth in his last eight games, while his run-scoring hits pushed his season RBI total to 103 — two shy of his career high.
Ramirez is 5-for-15 with four runs scored and four RBIs versus the Rangers this season.
Cleveland acting manager DeMarlo Hale credited his team’s bold play on the bases for its success in the series opener.
“All around we were just aggressive. We picked up the ball, didn’t make any mistakes,” Hale said. “Any time you put four- and five-run innings together, you’re stringing hitters together.”
While the Indians are aiming to avert a losing season, Texas was resigned to that fate long ago. The Rangers, in fact, have endured their second-most losses since the club moved to Arlington in 1972.
“We have to play better baseball,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who labeled the effort as “sloppy.”
“We made an error, made some bad plays and bad decisions. Three mental mistakes that cost us basically four runs on defensive side and one on the offensive side. We can’t keep doing that,” Woodward said.
Andy Ibanez had an RBI double to open the scoring on Friday. He is 8-for-17 with three doubles against the Indians this season.
Nathaniel Lowe belted a solo homer to highlight his three-hit performance in the series opener. He is 9-for-15 with two homers, four RBIs and four runs scored versus Cleveland this season.
Indians right-hander Triston McKenzie (5-8, 4.81 ERA) will look to end his season on a high note after following a run of seven straight quality starts with two difficult performances.
The 24-year-old McKenzie surrendered seven runs on nine hits — including three homers — in 4 1/3 innings of a 7-2 setback to Kansas City on Sept. 20. He followed that up six days later by allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings of a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
“This is just kind of part of the growing pains, and you learn from it,” Hale said of McKenzie, who has thrown 116 innings this season. “It’s something that we do keep in the back of our mind because we know that this has been a workload that has been a little stronger and higher than previous years.
McKenzie will be making his 33rd career appearance and first against Texas.
Like McKenzie, Texas right-hander Jordan Lyles (9-13, 5.31) also will attempt to halt a two-game skid on Saturday.
Lyles, 30, has faced the Indians only once in his 11-year career, and it did not go well for him. On Aug. 26 at Cleveland, he gave up eight runs and nine hits, including two home runs, in 3 2/3 innings.
Lyles has yielded the most homers in the majors this season at 38, one more than the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin.
–Field Level Media