CLEVELAND — There were plenty of highlights for the Cleveland Indians in their weekend sweep at Detroit: Jake Bauers hit for the cycle, Leonys Martin stole home and Trevor Bauer threw his first career shutout.
Another plus for the Indians: Some signs of life from the bat of Jose Ramirez.
The Cleveland third baseman had four hits in the series, which may not sound like much but constitutes half of Ramirez’s total for the month of June. One of those hits was a triple Friday. He also drove in three runs and scored three times in that three-game sweep.
“We’re looking for reasons to be optimistic,” manager Terry Francona said after Saturday’s game. “Hopefully he can build on it.”
One of the American League’s top players over the previous three seasons, Ramirez has been having a miserable year at the plate in 2019. His solid series against the Tigers only brought his average to .203, and his slugging percentage is an anemic .301. The Indians are 10 games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central. That probably says more about the Twins than about Cleveland, but the Indians (37-33) could use a big second half from Ramirez if they’re going to return to the postseason.
Ramirez is one of a handful of players with impressive track records who have floundered a bit this season. Keep an eye on this group to see who can turn it around:
— Aaron Nola, Phillies. Nola is 6-1, but with a 4.89 ERA and some ugly no-decisions. He’s already had three starts of four innings or fewer. Control has been an issue: He’s walked 4.0 hitters per nine innings.
— Joey Votto, Reds. The 35-year-old Votto had his offensive numbers dip last year, but nothing like this. He’s hitting .255 with six home runs and a slugging percentage under .400.
— Rougned Odor, Rangers. The Texas second baseman reached 30 homers in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017, but that seems like a while ago. He’s currently hitting .180 with eight home runs at an age (25) when you would think he’d be establishing himself as a star.