Ramirez comes through in clutch

June, 1, 2012
6/01/12
11:35
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- There’s one statement Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn makes to teammate Alexei Ramirez nearly every day.

“I try to tell him that he’s a bad dude, man,” Dunn said.

[+] EnlargeAlexei Ramirez
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAlexei Ramirez hits the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning on Friday.
Describing Dunn as a bad dude could be understandable. Dunn is 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds and smashes the ball like you’d expect someone of his size. Ramirez and his 6-2, 180-pound frame don’t exactly bring to mind “bad dude.” But yet, it is what Dunn calls him and what Ramirez has proven to be at the plate lately.

Ramirez extended the White Sox’s winning streak to nine games when he drove in the game-winning run with two outs in the eighth inning of Friday’s 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners. It was also Ramirez’s seventh RBI in the last six games.

“He’s starting to swing the bat like he’s capable of doing,” Dunn said. “He’s a guy I feel really confident up with a big situation. That was huge (in the eighth inning.) That obviously kind of broke the game for us. I’m glad he was able to do it.”

Less than three weeks ago, Ramirez didn’t appear so capable. After going 0-for-3 against the Kansas City Royals on May 12, Ramirez’s average fell to .199. He was given the next day off.

Since then, Ramirez has been a different hitter. On May 13, he had two hits. His average rose to over .200, and it’s stayed there.

This past week he’s especially found his hitting stroke and produced for the White Sox in the No. 8 spot in the order. He had two hits in a win over the Cleveland Indians on May 26. He had three hits and two RBIs against them on Sunday. He had two hits and two RBIs against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and two more hits and two more RBIs against them on Wednesday.

Ramirez, a career .275 hitter, never doubted his time would come this season.

“I think this game changes on a daily basis,” Ramirez said through translator Jackson Miranda. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball better and in doing so I’m able to make better contact.

“You know what? I don’t lose confidence. That’s part of baseball. The last thing you can do is lose confidence in yourself. That’s just part of the game. All you got to do is keep on going out there and just hitting them until they drop.”

That was Ramirez’s mentality on Friday. After going hitless in his first three at-bats, he came to the plate in the eighth inning with the game tied, two runners on and two outs. Despite his lack of early success, Ramirez was focused on the task at hand and came through in the clutch.

“It’s something -- you go to the plate and you know the team needs that run,” said Ramirez, who is hitting .338 with runners in scoring position this season. “All I was thinking about was making contact and just running to the bag hard. That’s only the two things I had in my mind.

“It feels good. It’s something we were able to get that run, and we were up by one. It’s all about the wins.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura hasn’t been surprised by Ramirez’s recent successes. He also never lost faith in Ramirez.

“He’s had tough luck I think for awhile,” Ventura said. “He’s been having good at-bats, hitting balls hard, but not really getting a whole lot out of it. I think it’s a credit to him how he goes about it in his at-bats. He doesn’t take a line drive at somebody like he did his first at-bat and let it affect him the whole game.”

Ramirez is obviously one bad dude, man.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208