CLEVELAND – The way things have been going, JosÚ Ramirez’s deep drive figured to be swallowed by the wind.
Once it cleared the wall, the Indians could exhale.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, giving Cleveland a 5-3 win over the White Sox that snapped a losing streak that felt like more than three games.
Francisco Lindor singled with one out against Jace Fry (1-1) before Jason Kipnis struck out. Sox manager Rick Renteria brought in right-hander Kelvin Herrera to face the switch-hitting Ramirez, and Lindor stole second on a 2-1 pitch.
Ramirez crushed Herrera’s next pitch – a 96 mph fastball – through a stiff wind blowing straight into home plate that knocked down at least six previous flies and kept them in the ballpark.
When Ramirez’s shot landed in the seats in right, it set off a much-needed celebration by the Indians, who have been looking for something to break them out of a season-long offensive slump.
“I understand we’re struggling a little bit, but I trust in the teammates that we have,” Ramirez said after his first career walk-off homer. “We’re a competitive team. We have a good bunch of guys and thank God for this win. I know we’re gonna keep going.”
From his vantage point in the dugout, Indians left fielder Carlos Gonzalez wasn’t confident Ramirez’s shot would carry.
“As soon as he hit it, I was like ‘I’m not sure,’ ” he said. “The way it’s playing in the past couple of games, it seems like it’s almost impossible to hit the ball over the fence to right field. But he crushed it. Any other day, or even tonight, when it’s almost impossible, he made it happen.”
Brad Hand (2-1) pitched a perfect ninth for the win as the Indians improved to only 5-9 in the American League Central.
JosÚ Abreu homered for the Sox.
Renteria said pitching to Ramirez was his best option.
“It’s pick your poison with those guys (Lindor and Ramirez), but there is no question in my mind how we thought we should attack them. We’ve got two of the best guys in the game, either holding or closing with Jace and Kelvin.”
Sox outfielder Leury Garcia (thumb bruise) was not in the starting lineup for the second straight day. He came in to pinch-run in the eighth and went into center field.
Indians: Right-hander Adam Plutko (forearm) had a rough outing at Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday, allowing five runs while only recording one out. With Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger on the disabled list, Cleveland is hoping Plutko can become an option to start soon.
Sox: Left-hander Manny Banuelos (2-1, 5.96) who makes his first start against Cleveland, was tagged for nine runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings against Boston on May 4.
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-3, 5.60) is 8-10 with a 3.98 ERA in 26 career starts against the Sox.