Even though there were a handful of games canceled due to inclement weather, the Cleveland Guardians have made it through their second week of action. Unfortunately, Cleveland has taken a bit of a tumble since last week's edition - going 2-3 and is now currently 6-5 on the year. The Guardians are now tied with Chicago for first place in the AL Central But, despite some early struggles, something pretty obvious became even more crystal clear: Jose Ramirez is a sensational player and Cleveland made the right call extending him due to his historic start.
Sure, that seems like a Magic Johnson-esque evaluation of things but, more on why it's a fact in a bit. We also gotta talk about the weather in Cleveland and how it somehow, someway always finds a way to damper things for Guardians and their fans. Granted, it also doesn't help that their bats are cold as well right now. We'll tackle all of this, and more, in this week's edition of key takeaways.
Jose Ramirez was and always is the main attraction for Cleveland. But in the second inning in Game 1 of the White Sox-Guardians doubleheader, things got a little crazy. Cleveland entered the bottom of the second with a 1-0 lead. The wacky inning started when Gabriel Arias reached on a Tim Anderson error. It was the second error of the game for Anderson and the third overall for the White Sox. The Guardians then recorded five consecutive singles, making it a 3-0 game with the bases loaded for Ramirez. Soon after he took the plate Ramirez broke the game wide open.
The Guardians' inning continued - it was shocking to see a grand slam not immediately kill the rally! Three more singles followed before another Anderson error, his third of the game, and then Oscar Mercado's second single of the inning plated one more run. That was a nine-spot for Cleveland. Thirteen batters went to the plate. Chicago starter Dallas Keuchel didn't last the inning, in fact, he didn't record an out, but he was charged with eight earned runs (10 total) on 10 hits in just one-plus innings.
Heading into this game, Ramirez already led the majors with 15 RBI, and now he's up to 20 in just the Guardians' 11th game. He has three career top-three finishes in AL MVP voting and finished sixth last season, but he's off to the type of start that leads to a career year. The grand slam was the second of the season for Ramirez, too, and that's notable. Only 139 players in recorded history have hit three grand slams in a season. There are only 21 cases with four. Per Sarah Langs of MLB, Ramirez is the only Cleveland player to hit two grand slams before the end of April.
The start as a whole is worth observation, of course. Ramirez has been a one-man wrecking crew to start the season. This comes after trade rumors in the spring that came to an end when the Guardians announced a seven-year, $141 million extension just before the season started. For now, Ramirez should be considered the frontrunner for AL MVP with no signs of slowing down.
Last Friday, the Guardians made their much-anticipated home debut against the San Francisco Giants. The atmosphere downtown was electric as the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Guardian's next-door neighbors who were looking to make the playoffs for the first time without LeBron James since the 1997-98 season, hosted the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA's play-in tournament. In solidarity with the Cavaliers, the Guardians lost their home opener, 4-1. Tom Hanks throwing out the inaugural opening pitch was one of the lone highlights of the night.
Who would've thunk that would be the only highlight of the series, though? The Giants came into this series wheeling and dealing, absolutely halting the Guardians, who had been on fire heading into this series, on offense. Thankfully, Cleveland was able to match San Francisco at times in terms of pitching. But, again, it doesn't help that the Giants figured out how to exactly shut down the Guardians on offense.
Cleveland also might give Betsy Kling and the rest of the WKYC weather team a run for their money as well. Since when the Guardians went cold on offense, it seemed to have a direct correlation with the weather in Cleveland. The Guardians saw the first two games of their home series against the White Sox canceled due to inclement weather. But, due to how unsafe conditions were on the field, it seemed like the right call in the end.
“And the field was, in places you can tell, the grass is a little insecure and as it gets colder with the wind here, it’s going to get slippery as hell, it’s going to be a little dangerous,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “[Cleveland manager] Terry [Francona] and I both agreed, it’s not smart and the umpire agreed.”
It was the second night in a row the White Sox and Guardians had been postponed. Monday’s game was called off because of snow and cold weather. There was no precipitation in the area Tuesday but temperatures were in the upper 30s with 20-30 mph winds Tuesday afternoon. The expected high was 42 degrees with much colder wind chills. Cleveland reported that ticket holders to the postponed game will have the option to exchange into one of five game options, including Wednesday's doubleheader. It stinks for the fans but, unfortunately, it's also something that comes with playing in Northeastern Ohio. Thankfully, it was a prime opportunity for the Guardians to rest and allow their bats to heat up again.
Every now and then, we'll check in on the Guardians and how they'll fare over the remainder of the season. After winning both games in their mini-series against Chicago, Cleveland is now tied for first place in the AL Central. With that said, it's time to put some respect on the Guardians and update their final record prediction as well as their chances of winning the division overall.
Final record prediction: 90-72
Chance to win AL Central: 35%