– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
ARLINGTON, Texas — While rookie pitcher Zach Plesac continues to make pitching in the Major Leagues look like a walk in the park, his Cleveland offense, particularly the bottom of the order, broke out in a big way to provide a lot of breathing room any time Plesac got into a spot of bother on Tuesday night.
Cleveland smacked four home runs, including consecutive taters from Jake Bauers, Roberto Pérez and Tyler Naquin in the seventh inning, to cruise to a 10-3 victory over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park to even up the four-game set at one win apiece.
Jose Ramirez also homered for Cleveland in support of Plesac, who went seven-plus innings while allowing just two hits and one run while striking out six. It was Plesac’s third quality start in his fifth-career Major League start, and his second career victory after maiden victory against the New York Yankees on June 7.
“[Plesac] was hitting pretty good velocity,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. “He actually threw his fastball in to the lefties the best we’ve seen since he’s been here, and really that’s what kept him going. Even his changeup had some cut to it at times. But he was so aggressive with his fastball that it opened up the plate. It was a good approach.”
Cleveland’s approach at the plate against Rangers starter Adrian Sampson and the rest of Texas’ bullpen was on point all night as it banged out 14 hits. Three of those knocks came consecutively in the seventh inning when Bauers, Pérez and Naquin hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to make it a 10-1 contest, and that marked the first time since 2004 Cleveland pulled off that feat.
Cleveland got on the board on a one-out RBI single by Jason Kipnis in the first inning that scored Oscar Mercado, who reached on a triple to right.
Ramirez, who had an MVP-caliber campaign last season but has been mired in a season-long slump that saw him come into the night batting .204, extended the lead to 4-0 with a towering three-run home run off Sampson with one out in the third. It took game No. 71 for Ramírez to hit his fifth homer of the season this season, compared to just his 18th game last season and game 17 to record his fifth dinger in 2017.
“My confidence is always there,” Ramírez said. “Regardless of the stats, I know who I am. I know I’m a good player and I just keep being positive and trust in myself.”
Despite just giving up two hits, Pleasac did walk five batters, including the first two in the bottom of the seventh inning before Francona took the ball from him and went to the bullpen. None of Plesac’s five walks came around to score as the Rangers went just 0-for-2 all night with runners in scoring position as a team.
Texas’ only run came in the fifth inning as Rougned Odor broke up Plesac’s no-hit bid with a home run with one out in the fifth, the Rangers’ first hit of the game.
Sampson went three innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out four in the loss.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 20 pictures in total.