CLEVELAND, Ohio – There was a video of John Adams playing his drum from his nursing home to fire up the fans.
There was Guardians super-fan Peter Knab not giving in to Cerebral Palsy. He made the first pitch from his wheelchair to a roaring ovation.
There was Jose Ramirez.
Altogether now: “HO-SAY, HO-SAY… HO-SAY, HO-SAY!”
Don’t you love that song as Ramirez struts around the bases after a home run, as he did in the sixth inning Friday afternoon?
How do you say: Cleveland 2, Tampa Bay 1. The Guardians have a 1-0 lead in best-of-three wild card series!
TIME TO SHOW SOME LOVE
What a burst of sunshine on a gloomy October Friday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Jose Ramirez belts a 2-run homer.
Shane Bieber allows only one run in 7 2/3 innings.
How do you say – Cy Young? That’s the award won by Bieber in 2020 and it’s the Shane Bieber who was on the mound Friday. Bieber was brilliant, as in three-hit, one-walk brilliance.
Bieber was working the corners. He was tempting and tantalizing the Tampa hitters to chase his curveball dancing into the dirt. He was in control, as if he had waited all season for this moment – and made the most of it.
The 6-foot-3, lanky right-hander has a long-armed fluid motion that reminds some of a young Jim Palmer. He gave Cleveland exactly what it needed in the opening game. This should be a heart-pounding, cold-sweat of a short playoff series. It’s a time for a starting pitcher with poise and confidence. That was Bieber. Without saying a word, his performance screamed, “Guys, just get me a few runs and we’ll be OK.”
A few came with two, as in the two-run homer by Ramirez – a 389-foot moon shot to right-center field. As the ball flew over the wall, a party erupted among the 30,741 fans at Progressive Field.
The fans were singing HO-SAY, HO-SAY. They were standing. They were waving red towels. They were dancing by the their seats, more than a few swaying into the aisles. The stands were a wave of red and white – love for HO-SAY, HO-SAY.
DON’T FORGET AMED & CLASS
Who was on first base when that baseball exclamation point was delivered?
He was Amed Rosario, the team’s most underrated player and the best friend of Ramirez.
If HO-SAY, HO-SAY is the heart of this team, Rosario is the soul. He was the forgotten man in the Francisco Lindor deal with the Mets. All he’s done is hustle, play every day and back up Ramirez in demanding the Guardians be the hardest-playing team in baseball.
Then there was Cleveland’s secret weapon: the bullpen.
Emmanuel Clase is baseball’s version of the nuclear option, a power-throwing right-hander who blows up late-inning dreams of the opposition. Guardians manager Terry Francona quietly decided before the series that he’d use his star closer more than one inning if needed – something he avoided all season.
When Bieber gave up a base hit with two outs in the eighth inning, Jose Siri came to the plate. He had homered off Bieber earlier in the game.
In fact, Siri came into the day 1 for 2 vs. Biber. That also was a home run. So he already had two off Cleveland’s ace. Francona was not about to let him go for three.
Class boldly strolled in from the bullpen. He induced Siri to pop out. He came back for the ninth.
Three up. Three down. Ballgame.
The man who committed to stay in Cleveland by signing a seven-year contract extension at the end of spring training was the hero of this game, with lots of help from his friend.
And yes, what a day for the Guardians and their fans!
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