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Andrés Giménez’s late blast propeller Cleveland Guardians to 7-3 win against Kansas City

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Guardians needed a big hit late on Monday, and Andrés Giménez delivered.

Giménez belted a three-run home run off Royals rookie reliever Collin Snider in the bottom of the eighth to give Cleveland a 7-3 win over Kansas City at Progressive Field.

Giménez’s home run came after the Royals tied the score against the Guardians ’bullpen in the top of the inning. The homer scored pinch runner Ernie Clement and rookie Oscar Gonzalez, who singled for his second hit of the game to put runners at the corners with one out.

Giménez drilled a 3-2 sinker to dead center field for his fifth home run, giving the Guardians infielder 23 RBI. It was his second career go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later. And it gave him 14 hits in 35 at-bats with four home runs and 22 RBI with runners in scoring position.

Guardians manager Terry Francona said whereas last season Giménez would let bad at-bats early in a game multiply, the 23-year-old infielder has been able to make adjustments on the fly.

“He seems to reel it in faster,” Francona said. “Now he’s able to process a little quicker, and when things aren’t good it’s not going to snowball into something. Obviously he put some at-bats from the beginning of the game in the rearview mirror, because that was really pretty. ”

Cleveland added a run on a fielder’s choice grounder by Myles Straw and Bobby Witt Jr.’s throwing error that allowed Steven Kwan to score from second base. Emmanuel Clase shut down the Royals in the ninth with a scoreless inning in a non-save situation.

José Ramírez stayed hot with an RBI single in the first and blasted his 13th home run in the fifth. The two-run shot off Royals starter Jonathan Heasley broke a 1-1 tie and gave Ramirez 22 in 126 career games against Kansas City. Ramírez has now driven in a major league-leading 51 runs in 44 games.

He became the second-fastest Cleveland hitter to reach the 50-RBI threshold behind Manny Ramirez’s 38 games in 1999. Manny Ramirez had 57 RBI through his first 44 games that year and went on to set the club’s single-season record. Francona said Ramírez was locked in from the first pitch he saw.

“You can’t see because of the shadows, first-pitch breaking ball, he waffles one to the right field,” Francona said. “He’s smart, man. He’s obviously extremely talented. But he is every bit as smart about the game as he is talented. ”

But after Eli Morgan pitched a perfect seventh out of the Cleveland bullpen, Trevor Stephan was unable to protect a two-run lead. Stephan gave up three straight hits in the eighth, including back-to-back RBI doubles by Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi to tie the score at 3-3.

Stephan failed to retire a batter and was relieved by Nick Sandlin, who loaded the bases on walks to MJ Melendez and Hunter Dozier before Carlos Santana popped out to Andrés Giménez at second base to end the inning.

Francona said he was trying to get Stephan some work after not pitching for three days.

“As you could imagine I was feeling really good about myself in that eighth inning,” Francona quipped. ”It was the right thing to do trying to get our guys in the right spot. But boy, it didn’t work. It just happened quick. Nick was having a difficult time, but he didn’t quit on himself and he competed. It was good enough. ”

The Guardians’ Zach Dancer rebounded from a rough outing in Houston to post his third quality start, allowing just one earned run in six innings with five strikeouts and no walks. He surrendered a leadoff home run to Emmanuel Rivera in the second, but settled in after that, retiring nine of the next 11 batters he faced.

Francona said before the game that Dancer needed to work on managing his emotions at points when the game could get away from him. He did so on several occasions Monday, working out of several jams with two outs.

“In those situations, when things aren’t going my way, I gotta be composed, that’s very important,” Dancer said. “When things are going my way, I show excited emotions to build some momentum for our team and that’s definitely something I do.”

But Gonzalez made Plesac work a little extra to get out of the sixth when he lost track of the number of outs in the inning from his defensive position in the right field.

Gonzalez, who made his major league debut last week in Detroit, turned in a nice running catch on a drive into the corner by Salvador Perez. Gonzalez snagged the ball before slamming up against the wall for the second out of the inning.

The problem was, Gonzalez thought it was the third out, and he casually flipped the ball into the stands before realizing his mistake. Andrew Benintendi, the Royals’ runner at first, was awarded two bases on the error and was at third when Dancer struck out MJ Melendez to end the inning.

Gonzalez immediately realized his mistake and said he wanted nothing more than to have the next batter hit another ball his way so he could make up for it.

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“There’s a lot of emotions happening in these types of games,” Gonzalez said via interpreter Agustin Rivero. “I was listening to the crowd and I thought there were two outs so I wanted to do something with them. I was able to flush it and focus on the next at-bat and help the team. ”

Gonzalez’s gaffe did not turn out to cost the Guardians any runs, nor really any extra pitches for Dancer. Just a few anxious moments with Benintendi standing 90 feet from home plate. But his base hit in the eighth set up Gimenez’s heroics. Francona said Gonzalez appears to be the kind of player who learns from his mistakes quickly, and that nobody in the Guardians’ dugout wanted to beat him up over the mistake.

“It was a little bit easier to laugh after Zach picked him up,” Francona said. “I just asked him ‘I haven’t been to Triple-A in a while. Do they make you get three outs there? ‘”

The dancer shrugged off the mistake, and said in the game of baseball guys are put in position to atone for their miscues all the time.

“It’s funny how often that happens, guys who do something like that get brought up in a big situation and come through,” Dancer said. “He’s been swinging the bat really well, he hits the ball really hard. It’s good to have him in the right field, it’s good to have him at the plate. Gonna continue to keep telling him to do what he’s doing. ”

When there are three outs, that is.

Next: The series continues Tuesday as right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-3, 3.42) takes the mound for Cleveland and lefty Daniel Lynch (2-3, 3.92) gets the start for Kansas City. First pitch from Progressive Field is set for 6:10 pm The game will air on Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Guardians Radio Network.

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