Four Run Eighth Sends Tribe to Sixth Straight; Indians 7, White Sox 4
Ronnie Tellalian | On 30, Jul 2013
Some good hops and a big inning propelled the Indians to a 7-4 victory. The win kept the Indians streak alive and pushed it to six straight games; they improve to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season.
The Indians (58-48) hosted the White Sox (40-64) for game two of their four game series. Scott Kazmir (6-4, 3.96) took the mound to face off against Chicago rookie Andre Rienzo (0-0, 0.00). Rienzo becomes the first Brazilian born player to pitch in a Major League game, and joins Indians catcher Yan Gomes as the only Brazilian born Major League Players. The Indians entered today’s game 2.5 games behind the Tigers for the Central Division lead, and just 0.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second Wild Card spot.
The White Sox struck early in the first inning. Alejandro De Aza led off the game with a line drive single into right field, and Alexi Ramirez followed with a fly out to right field. Alex Rios reached out to pull a down and away change-up into right field for hit number two in the inning, and put two runners on with only one out. After getting Paul Konerko to fly out to right field, Adam Dunn doubled in the gap in right center field to bring in De Aza and Rios giving the White Sox a 2-0 first inning lead. Kazmir continues his early game struggles, he owns a 4.53 ERA in the first three innings. He has pitched better in innings 4-6 with a 3.07 ERA in those frames.
Kazmir was unable to keep it together in the second. He got the first hitter to fly out to center field, but things went south quickly. Gordon Beckham snapped a 0 for 20 skid with a double into left field, and White Sox catcher Josh Phegley singled up the middle to drive him in for the third run of the game. Kazmir came back and shut the door from there, getting De Aza to ground out and then struck out Ramirez to end the inning.
Kazmir does tend to get stronger as the game goes on. Opponents bat .268 against him on the first round through the lineup, the second time through opponents hit just .220. The third time through the lineup is even better as they hit a mere .212. The trend continued as Kazmir allowed no runs on one hit the second time through the White Sox order.
White Sox pitcher Rienzo pitched like an ace through the first four innings. He allowed only two hits and no runs while striking out three batters. All three strikeouts came in the fourth as he set down the side in order, fanning Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, and Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Indians were able to get through on Rienzo thanks to some patient hitting and a fortunate bounce. Michael Brantley walked to lead off the inning, and then the baseball gods smiled on Cleveland. Carlos Santana bounced a ground ball to short that looked like a tailor made double play. Second base umpire John Hirschbeck was positioned directly in the path of the bouncer. He dove out of the way just in time, but it was enough to distract Ramirez as short. He was unable to field the ball cleanly and everyone was safe. With one out, Lonnie Chisenhall single to right to load the bases, and Yan Gomes followed that with a great at bat. He drew a bases loaded walk and the Indians were on the board. Michael Bourn then grounded one to Adam Dunn at first; Dunn threw to second for one out, but on the relay to first Bourn was able to beat out the throw. Santana scored on the pay, but as Rienzo was covering; his footwork was less than stellar. Bourn stepped on his ankle as he crossed the bag and as Rienzo hobbled in the infield Chisenhall scampered home to tie the game at three.
Rienzo stayed in the game to try and close out the inning. Swisher came up and slapped a double the other way down the left field line to add another base runner, putting men on second and third with two outs. Jason Kipnis kept up the patient hitting, drawing a walk to load the bases again for Cabrera. Rienzo was able to get out of the trouble there by inducing a fly out to left field. The damage was done however, and the Indians were able to knot it up at three after five innings.
In the sixth, the White Sox got some good bounces of their own. Paul Konerko dribbled a check swing out in front of home plate. Gomes and Kazmir converged on the dying roller but a communication issue kept either from making a play and Konerko was safe with an infield single. Dunn came up and blooped a broken bat single into left field to put two runners on with no outs. That would be the end of the day for Kazmir as he would give way to the bullpen.
Matt Albers stepped in to relieve Kazmir and got a quick double play ball to give the Indians two outs with Konerko on third. Dayan Viciedo came up and scorched a single up the middle to score Konerko and give the White Sox a four to three lead. Kazmir went 5 innings on the day giving up four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Rienzo battled in this game, and in the seventh inning he showed the poise of a veteran. After being hobbled in the fifth and looking like his night was done, he set the Indians down in order in the seventh inning. Gomes was called out on strikes, Bourn grounded out to second base, and Swisher kept Beckham busy with another ground out to second base. Rienzo went seven strong innings giving up three runs, none earned, on five hits and six strikeouts. Heading into the eighth inning the Indians still trailed 4-3.
Matt Albers was fantastic in relief of Kazmir. He went 2.2 innings and allowed no runs on only one hit. In the eighth, he gave way to Rich Hill who walked Dunn on eight pitches. Brian Shaw came on and finished out the eighth with a ground out by Jeff Keppinger.
In the bottom of the eighth, the White Sox trotted out lefty Donnie Veal to try and hold the lead. Kipnis grounded out to start the inning, but Cabrera picked the team up with a single down the line in left field. With two outs Santana smoked a ball in the gap in left center, Cabrera raced to third and runners were at the corners with the tying run 90 feet from the plate. The Indians pinch hit Ryan Raburn for Giambi and the White Sox countered by replacing Veal with Matt Lindstrom. Drew Stubbs came on to pinch run for Santana, and the moves paid off. Raburn ripped a single up the middle to not only score Cabrera, but the speedy Stubbs flew around the bases to score the go ahead run and give the Indians the 5-4 lead.
The scoring continued when Chisenhall smacked another single to give the Tribe two base runners with two outs. Gomes then stepped up and crushed his ninth double of the season off the wall in right field. Raburn and Chisenhall both scored to give the Indians a 7-4 lead. They only mustered five hits through the first seven innings of the game, but they banged out five hits in the eighth alone to bring in four runs and push their lead to three runs heading into the ninth inning.
Chris Perez (3-1, 2.56) came on in the ninth to try preserve the win and earn his 15th save on the season. Chisenhall made a great play coming in on a slow roller to get Viciedo for out number one. Beckham reached on a double down the line that skipped just past the diving glove of Chisenhall. Pinch hitter Conor Gillaspie bounced one back to the mound and Perez fielded it and threw to first for out number two. De Aza ended the game with a ground out to third and the Indians won the game. They improved to a season best ten games above .500.
The Indians will face the White Sox again tomorrow for game three of the four game series. The Tribe will bring Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.74) to the mound to face off against Jake Peavy (8-4, 4.28). Trade rumors have been swirling around Peavy all month, and there is a strong possibility that he could be dealt before the start of tomorrow’s game.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images