SEATTLE — José Ramírez was beaten by a slider by Andrés Muñoz at a key moment in Cleveland’s first game of the series against the Seattle Mariners.
Given the chance to hit a fastball two days later, Ramírez did not miss.
Ramírez homered and sparked an eighth-inning comeback with an RBI brace, Zach Plesac won for the first time since early June and the Guardians rallied for a 4-3 win on Saturday night.
Ramírez hit his 26th homer off Seattle starter Luis Castillo in the fourth, then slapped a 101-mph fastball from Muñoz to the left-field line as part of Cleveland’s three-run eighth.
“You can see how good Munoz is because (Ramirez) doesn’t often hit the ball down the left field line,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “It’s a pretty impressive round for us because this kid is really, really good.”
How impressive? Seattle was 51-0 this season as they led after seven innings. It was the Mariners’ first loss at the top of the eighth since Sept. 7, 2021.
“They put the bat on the ball. They found holes and they organized a round. It happens from time to time,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I thought Andrés’ stuff was good. You have to give them credit there.
The big run began with a march to Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario’s single. Josh Naylor’s RBI ground and Andrés Giménez’s sacrifice fly capped the outburst for leaders AL Central, who remained three games ahead of second-placed Minnesota.
Cleveland had scored four runs in the first 27 innings of the four-game series and then had three against one of the American League’s top relievers.
Muñoz (2-5) struck out Ramírez in the eighth inning of Seattle’s 3-1 win on Thursday. The right-hander hadn’t allowed a point in his previous 10 appearances.
“I feel like pitchers when they face me, it’s not necessarily a ground they cling to in particular. They feel like they’re trying to play with my mind, get into my mind,” Ramirez said through a translator.
The rally gave Plesac (3-11) its first win since June 5. The right-hander lost his previous seven decisions but held the Mariners to three hits in seven innings, a season high, and struck out six.
“He competed like crazy and when you think about it and if he hadn’t we wouldn’t have had a chance,” Francona said.
The only problem for Plesac was that all three hits he gave up went off the court. Eugenio Suárez homered in the lead in the second inning for his 24th of the season and rookie Julio Rodríguez hit a commanding shot in the third for his 21st.
Jake Lamb, who took over at first base after Ty France was ejected, hit his first homer since being traded to his hometown team with a two-out shot in the seventh.
But that was all Seattle could handle. It was the sixth time in major league history that a team had three solo home runs to explain all of its hits. The Mariners were the first team since at least 1901 to have three homers but no other baserunners.
For Rodríguez, it was his first long ball since signing a massive contract that guarantees him $209.3 million and could be worth up to nearly $470 million over the life of the deal.
James Karinchak pitched the eighth and Emmanuel Clase worked the ninth for his 30th save.
“We started well. These guys capitalized on the mistakes I made and the guys came through tonight with the late sticks,” Plesac said.
Castillo was dominant for six innings and only a high pitch count ended his night early.
The right-hander allowed a pair of singles to Kwan, a long ball from Ramírez and a single from Naylor. Castillo finished with 10 strikeouts, getting at least one in every inning and putting the team out in third. His biggest strikeout was feeling Rosario with runners on first and third to finish fifth.
France was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barrett midway through the fifth inning. France had been called on strikes to finish fourth on boundary ground and had words for Barrett. After the start of the fifth, France apparently had no more words for Barrett and were thrown out.
It was the second straight day Seattle had an ejection, after Jesse Winker and Servais were thrown out on Friday.
Mariners: INF/OF Sam Haggerty hit the batting cage before the game and was available on the bench a day after a bunt attempt hit the fingers of his hand.
Goalies: RHP Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.37 ERA) hasn’t won since May 20 and hasn’t made a decision in his last five starts. Civale allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against San Diego.
Mariners: LHP Robbie Ray (10-8, 3.75) is looking to continue his strong showing from August. Ray has allowed six earned runs and struck out 34 in 26 innings in four starts this month. He has won his last two starts.