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Ramírez, Kwan homer as AL Central-leading Guardians beat Blue Jays 6-3 to go 22 games over .500

CLEVELAND (AP) — José Ramírez and Bo Naylor hit two-run homers and Steven Kwan added a solo shot while pushing his average back near .400, leading the Cleveland Guardians to a 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

All three homers came off José Berríos (6-6) as the AL Central-leading Guardians (48-26) moved 22 games over. 500 for the first time this season.

Rookie Daniel Schneemann also homered for Cleveland, which has 86 homers in 74 games after hitting just 48 at the same point a year ago.

“Maybe before as a team, we were so focused on contact and that’s our identity and if we swing the bat, we have to make contact,” Kwan said. “Now this year we’re understanding that we can have a whole at-bat to play with."

Isiah Kiner-Falefa homered twice and Davis Schneider connected for Toronto, which lost its fifth game in a row.

Ben Lively (7-3) gave up just three hits — two homers — in 5 2/3 innings and avenged a loss to Toronto last weekend.

The right-hander wasn't expected to have a major role when Cleveland signed him in December, but Lively has been invaluable for the starting staff after ace Shane Bieber was lost for the season.

Rookie Cade Smith, Scott Barlow and Hunter Gaddis got it to the ninth with one-hit relief before Emmanuel Clase finished up for his AL-leading 23rd save in 26 tries.

Kwan went 2-for-4 with a homer and double to raise his average to .390. He doesn't have enough at-bats to qualify as the major league leader after Kwan missed several weeks with a hamstring injury.

Kwan is batting .468 (29 for 62) soince coming off the IL on May 31.

With the temperature hovering around 90 degrees at game time for the rare late afternoon start, the ball was jumping out of Progressive Field.

Ramírez connected for his 19th homer in the third to put the Guardians up 4-2.

Following a leadoff single by Andrés Giménez, Ramírez pulled an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right field.

Kwan, who had his 14-game hitting streak stopped on Friday, led off the fifth with his sixth homer — tying his season-high as a rookie in 2022.

“He made a conscious effort to work on impacting the ball just like a lot of our guys all winter,” manager Stephen Vogt said of Kwan. “When (hitting coach Chris Valaika) Val and the hitting group talked about it and the other guys, Kwanny really took that to heart."

Schneemann's second homer put the Guardians ahead 6-2 in the sixth.

Bo Naylor showed he's got pop like his older brother, Josh, with a 435-foot homer to center in the second — his first homer since May 4.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider chalked up Berríos' outing — five runs, six hits in five innings — to some misplaced pitches.

“A lot of balls in the middle, which is very uncharacteristic of José,” he said. "Kwan, Ramírez, they’re going to get theirs. It was a couple of mistakes in the middle.”

CENTER STAGE

Following the game, NBA star, business mogul and part-time DJ Shaquille O'Neal performed in concert.

Several Guardians players excitedly talked about the appearance as did Vogt, who met the All-Star big man at the NBA Finals a few years back.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to watch Bill Russell or Kareem Abdul Jabbar," Vogt said. “But it’s hard for me to think of a more dominant basketball player that’s ever walked on the face of the earth."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Jordan Romano (elbow) will be shut down for a few days after feeling soreness following a long-toss session. He was placed on the 15-day injured list on June 1 with inflammation. “Not ideal,” Schneider said.” ... OF Daulton Varsho had to be helped off the field in the ninth, when his back locked up as he began running out a grounder. Schneider said Varsho will likely get Sunday off.

Guardians: There are no formal plans yet for RHP Gavin Williams (elbow) following his latest rehab start. Williams threw 66 pitches and his velocity reached 98 mph for Double-A Akron. Vogt said the team will evaluate Williams before making the next move.

UP NEXT

Guardians RHP Triston McKenzie (3-4, 4.48 ERA) starts the series finals against Blue Jays RHP Yusei Kikuchi (4-6, 3.65). McKenzie only pitched 2 1/3 innings — a season-low — in his previous outing.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb