CLEVELAND (AP) — José Ramírez hit a three-run homer and tripled a day after avoiding a serious injury when he fouled a ball off his leg, and the Cleveland Guardians defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-1 on Friday night.
Both teams were without their managers for the series opener. Detroit’s A.J. Hinch missed the game because he wasn't feeling well, though he tested negative for COVID-19. Bench coach George Lombard managed the team. Cleveland’s Terry Francona was away to have a minor surgical procedure and is expected back Saturday. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale filled in.
Ramírez, the Guardians’ star third baseman, collapsed to the ground in pain after fouling a ball off his right shin in the eighth inning Thursday against Cincinnati. He remained in the game and had an RBI single but was removed for a pinch-runner.
Ramírez thought the worst and acknowledged he wasn't sure if he'd be able to play when he arrived at the ballpark Friday. He had X-rays and other imaging tests on his shin but was in his customary third spot in the lineup.
“It was really concerning because there was a lot of pain, but after the MRI I felt like I was stable,” he said through a translator. “After that I felt there wasn’t much with the pain I was feeling that was going to keep me away.”
Ramírez showed no effects of the injury when his first-inning line drive sailed over the head of center fielder Derek Hill for a triple. Ramírez didn’t hesitate as he rounded second base and slid headfirst into third.
The three-time All-Star’s three-run homer off reliever Jacob Barnes (3-1) in the sixth gave Cleveland a 4-0 lead.
“I felt good,” Ramírez said. “During the game you don’t even think about it. The plays come to you and you just react.”
Cleveland considered using Ramírez at DH.
“We had a few lineups,” Hale said. “He wants to play. We trust him to ask him how he feels. He’s earned that right. He’s played long enough that he can tell us and be very truthful that I feel good enough to play third base or I need another day.”
Barnes was in the game because of yet another injury to a Detroit starting pitcher. Tarik Skubal extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings, but left after five because he was struck on the leg by a line drive.
Skubal was hit on the lower left leg by Ernie Clement’s liner. The ball caromed to third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who threw to second for the inning-ending force play. The impact knocked Skubal down. He quickly got up, limped to the dugout and went to the clubhouse with a trainer.
Skubal had a large bandage on his shin and said he would undergo further examination Saturday.
“I’m very optimistic with what happened and where I got hit,” he said. “I feel pretty good. I’ll do everything I can to prepare to start in five days. Hopefully it got a little more muscle than bone.”
Skubal acknowledged he was frustrated.
“I knew my night was over and I didn’t want it to be over," he said. "I felt like I was in control of the game a little bit. It was only through five innings so I kind of put the bullpen in a bad spot.”
Skubal’s injury is the latest to hit the Detroit rotation that began the season. Tyler Alexander (left elbow), Matt Manning (right shoulder) and Casey Mize (right elbow) are on the injured list, and Eduardo Rodriguez (left side) is expected to join them this weekend. Michael Pineda is also on the IL with a broken right finger.
“We might have to start lighting some sage or something,” Skubal said. “It’s been pretty tough. A lot of weird stuff going on.”
Aaron Civale (2-3) moved to 7-0 in eight career starts against Detroit, but he was removed in the seventh with an apparent injury. The right-hander tripped while running toward first base after fielding a grounder.
Civale was charged with an error on the play and removed. The team announced he had a left glute cramp.
Tigers: RHP Will Vest was placed on the COVID-19 injured list after a positive test. The contract of RHP Drew Carlton was purchased from Triple-A Toledo.
Guardians: OF/1B Josh Naylor was activated from the COVID-19 IL but wasn’t in the lineup against Skubal. Naylor missed five games. OF Richie Palacios was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
RHP Alex Faedo (0-1, 2.87 ERA), the Tigers’ No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, makes his fourth major league start Saturday night. RHP Shane Bieber (1-2, 3.72) starts for the Guardians. He gave up one run in six innings against Minnesota last Saturday.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports