DENVER — Shane Bieber did what he does on the road, José Ramírez did what he does everywhere and the Guardians snapped a 20-year drought — OK, it was only eight games — in Colorado with a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Rockies on Tuesday night at Coors Field.
Ramírez had three more RBIs to extend his MLB-leading total to 62, and his top-spin double that rocketed by first baseman C.J. Cron drove in Amed Rosario for the winning run in the top of the 10th inning to give Cleveland its first victory at Coors Field since June 16, 2002.
That was the winning hit. The winning defensive sequence came moments later behind closer Emmanuel Clase in the bottom of the 10th. After the Rockies had runners on first and third with no outs, the Guardians took advantage of a baserunning gaffe by Charlie Blackmon between third and home, then followed with Clase inducing a game-ending double play for Cleveland’s 11th victory in 14 games.
Ramírez had a hand in all four Guardians runs. He had a two-run single in the third, then scored on a Josh Naylor single in the sixth following a walk and stolen base. On defense, Ramírez started a double play with runners on first and second and no outs in the fourth and made a nice stop to throw out Jose Iglesias to end the sixth.
“There’s nothing you can’t say [about Ramírez],” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I get a front-row seat, which is pretty awesome. This kid is such an intelligent baseball player. I know his skills are off the charts, but he is so intelligent. He brings it every day. He doesn’t take days off. He just does everything.”
The Guardians are three games over .500 for the first time this season at 30-27, and it took an unusual sequence in the 10th to get there.
Yonathan Daza reached base on an error by Cleveland second baseman Andrés Giménez to send Blackmon, the automatic runner, to third base with no outs. Clase, who got his 12th save, induced a squibber back to the mound by Brendan Rodgers. Blackmon unexpectedly broke for the plate, but he was trapped when Clase threw to catcher Austin Hedges.
Hedges ran Blackmon back toward third, but he momentarily lost the ball, so Blackmon broke for home. Hedges threw to Clase covering, and the pitcher ran Blackmon back toward third and threw to Ramírez, who got the tagout. The runners stayed at first and second during the rundown, and Cron grounded to Giménez to start the double play.
“I was just reading Blackmon,” Hedges said. “Clase has done a lot of work fielding his position, and in that situation, we needed to come home and I was just yelling, ‘Four.’ Clase made a nice athletic play. I made an extremely unathletic play, but we ended up getting the out and Clase ended up finishing the job.
“It was a weird situation. I expected some different things at third. I was expecting the guys on first and second to also be moving more. A lot was going on in the midst of bobbling the ball 1,000 times. The game went our way on that one, though.”
Bieber’s first career start at Coors Field had a familiar ring: another quality start and another record-extending road performance. Bieber has given up three or fewer earned runs or fewer in 35 consecutive road starts, the longest streak since ERA became an official statistic in 1913.
“I thought he was so good. I probably managed with my heart a little bit and not my head,” Francona said. “I was kicking myself. When we have Eli [Morgan] out there rested, I have to be a hitter too early than a hitter too late.”
Ramírez, Clase, winning pitcher Bryan Shaw, Hedges and the group picked Bieber up after the right-hander’s biggest blemish — a two-run homer by Blackmon that tied the game at 3 with two outs in the seventh.
“It’s frustrating, but it comes with the territory,” Bieber said. “I still don’t think I’m where I want to be or where I should be, but I have to give myself the grace and the patience to get there. Just have to put in the work, be diligent, continue to get better from outing to outing. I feel like that’s what I’m doing, and I feel like there is a lot more left, too.”
Bieber also summed up the Guardians’ feelings on Ramírez and the slugger’s latest heroics.
“It’s incredible,” Bieber said. “He really is the most valuable player in baseball. It’s not just at the plate. It’s running the bases. It’s playing defense.”