It was only a matter of time, but the Cleveland Guardians perennial MVP candidate Jose Ramirez has finally hit his first home run of the 2023 season.
The timing could not have been any better for Ramirez, the Guardians found themselves down by a single run after working their way back from an early three-run deficit. Amed Rosario had just reached on a one-out triple to right and the expectation was that Ramirez would at least drive in Cleveland's shortstop. After three straight balls to start the at-bat, Nationals pitcher Chad Kuhl made a big mistake by throwing a cement mixer slider that sat middle-middle. Ramirez would demolish what can only be described as the perfect home run pitch into the right field stands, resulting in Cleveland regaining and retaining the lead for the remainder of the game.
As soon as Ramirez made contact Kuhl knew it was gone. The Nationals pitcher made a mistake and instantly recognized the ramifications from it.
Kuhl's mistake was Cleveland's gain, because there is absolutely no reason to be throwing to Ramirez in a 3-0 count with two open bases and a pressing Josh Naylor on deck. The fact Washington did not just give Ramirez the intentional free pass at this point to set up the double-play with a perfect double-play candidate is mind-boggling. This is not an opportunity that comes up all that often for someone like Ramirez and seeing him take advantage is a sign of things to come.
It took 15 games for Ramirez to finally hit one over the fence and the good news for the Guardians is that he can hit them in bunches. While the Guardians third baseman was not struggling at the plate by any means, with seven extra-base hits and a .887 OPS, hitting a home run was the only box Ramirez was yet to check. Now with that out of the way Ramirez can take his current four-game hitting streak featuring a .429/.556/.786 slash line and 1.341 OPS and really do some damage moving forward.