Jose Ramirez belted a two-run homer and Shane Bieber pitched into the eighth inning as the Cleveland Guardians opened the best-of-three American League wild-card series against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays with a 2-1 victory on Friday.
Bieber (1-0) outdueled Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan, allowing one run on three hits over 7 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
Emmanuel Clase earned the save after recording the final four outs.
Amed Rosario and Ramirez had two hits apiece for the American League Central champion Guardians, who closed the regular season by winning 24 of their last 30 games.
Tampa Bay, which entered the postseason with losses in nine of its past 11 games, scored its lone run on Jose Siri's homer in the sixth inning.
McClanahan (0-1) nearly matched Bieber's stellar outing, pitching seven innings and allowing two runs with five strikeouts and no walks.
Siri's solo homer broke the scoreless deadlock with one out in the sixth when he deposited Bieber's 1-0 fastball just over the wall in right-center field.
Cleveland responded in the bottom half of the inning. McClanahan gave up Rosario's one-out single before Ramirez put the Guardians ahead with a two-run homer to center.
The Guardians finished the regular season next-to-last in the majors with 127 home runs, but Ramirez's second career postseason homer provided all the offense they would need.
Neither team was able to generate much offense in the early innings against two dominant pitchers.
Cleveland recorded back-to-back one-out singles by Oscar Gonzalez and Josh Naylor in the fourth, but McClanahan escaped the jam by inducing a double-play grounder from Owen Miller.
Tampa Bay was held hitless until Harold Ramirez singled to lead off the fifth. Bieber then retired the next three batters in order, striking out Christian Bethancourt to end the inning.
The Rays put the tying runner on second base with two outs in the eighth, but Siri lined out to third against Clase to end the threat.
Tampa Bay will send Tyler Glasnow to the mound in Game 2 on Saturday against Cleveland's Triston McKenzie.
--Field Level Media