Walks, Wild Pitches Aid Potent ChiSox Offense; White Sox 9, Indians 6
Bob Toth | On 11, Apr 2014
Cleveland was unable to keep Chicago off of the scoreboard on Friday, as runs in six straight innings and three times countering Indians runs paced the White Sox to a 9-6 win over the Tribe.
The Pale Hose jumped out to a third inning lead and maintained it consistently throughout the night after their starter Chris Sale allowed the Indians to briefly tie the game in the middle innings. The White Sox then responded to the Cleveland runs with runs of their own, thanks in large part to third baseman Conor Gillaspie.
The White Sox struck first in the bottom half of the third inning. Alexei Ramirez led off the inning with a first pitch single off of Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (0-2). Tyler Flowers followed with a single through the hole between first and second. Adam Eaton sent a 1-1 pitch into the right field corner to score Ramirez from second to give Chicago and Sale the early 1-0 lead. After a strikeout by Marcus Semien, Gillaspie lifted a sacrifice fly into center field. It was the second out of the inning but easily scored Flowers from third with the game’s second run.
Chicago tacked on another run off of Carrasco in the bottom of the fourth. Adam Dunn led off the frame with a single to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a flyout to right, birthday boy Alejandro De Aza singled and Dunn lumbered in with the run scored, pushing the White Sox lead to 3-0 over the Tribe.
The Indians put two on with one out in each of the first two innings but were unable to do any damage against the tough lefty Sale (3-0). After the back-to-back singles by Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles in the second inning, Sale set down eight straight batters in a row before Aviles reached again with a single to lead off the fifth. Elliot Johnson followed with a blast to deep center that bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Asdrubal Cabrera supplied the Indians’ third straight hit, pulling a 2-0 pitch to left that dropped in for a double, clearing both Aviles and Johnson and cutting the White Sox lead down to 3-2.
Sale quickly got ahead of Nick Swisher, 0-2, before the Indians first baseman worked the count back to even. The switch hitter found the hole between second and short with a roller, scoring Cabrera from second on the single to tie the game at 3-3. A clearly frustrated Sale escaped further damage by retiring Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Ryan Raburn in order on balls in the air.
Carrasco immediately gave the lead back.
It took five pitches to retire Flowers to start the fifth. Eaton walked on four straight pitches and moved to second on another wild pitch from Carrasco. Semien walked on six pitches and Gillaspie singled through the right side of the infield after a pair of balls to start the at bat. Eaton scored from second on the play to give Chicago a 4-3 lead.
“It’s hard enough off of Sale. We got that game tied. That’s a big inning,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “When you score and tie it up, you’ve got to go back out and kinda take charge of the game. They just kept scoring every inning.”
Carrasco’s night would be over one batter later, striking out Jose Abreu on three pitches. His replacement out of the bullpen, Marc Rzepczynski, came on and walked Dunn to load the bases. After a close call earlier in the at bat, he also walked Dayan Viciedo to force in a run to extend the Sox lead to 5-3. It was the fourth walk of the inning by Cleveland pitching.
“We had too many walks,” said Francona. “In big situations, we want [Rzepczynski] to have the ball, especially against left-handers. It didn’t work tonight. It will.”
Carrasco worked four and two-thirds innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits. He struck out five, including the first three batters of the game, and walked three. The start marked the fifth time in eleven games this season that an Indians starter has failed to complete the fifth inning. He was charged with a pair of wild pitches, both of which proved costly in the outcome of the game. One of the runs charged to him was allowed by the Indians bullpen, the first inherited runner to score on the relief corps this season.
“I thought Carlos in that fifth kinda slowed down his tempo,” said Francona. “You could tell he was fighting through some of his mechanics. That’s when we went to [Rzepczynski] trying to snuff that out. We couldn’t put up a zero the rest of the way.”
Sale’s night was over after five innings and 105 pitches. He allowed three runs on six hits, walked a pair, and struck out five. He left with the lead, but it would quickly be put to the test.
Jake Petricka entered the game in relief and put Michael Brantley on first on a four-pitch walk. Gomes singled to right, moving Brantley to third. Aviles, looking for his third hit of the night, hit the ball at third baseman Gillaspie, who juggled the ball and threw too late to nab Aviles at first. Brantley scored on the play, cutting the deficit to one run. A sacrifice by Johnson moved both runners into scoring position for Cabrera, who struck out for the second out. With a chance to get the Tribe their first lead of the night, Swisher struck out looking on four pitches to end the inning.
The White Sox countered the Indians run with two more of their own off of Bryan Shaw to give them a 7-4 lead. Shaw struck out the first two batters of the inning before Eaton reached on a drag bunt single. Semien singled to left and both scored as Gillaspie doubled down the left field line. Gillaspie drove in four on the night on a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly.
Cleveland got a run back in the seventh on a two-out bloop single by Brantley over the head of Ramirez at short. Santana scored from second after reaching on a fielder’s choice, cutting the White Sox lead back down to two at 7-5.
The White Sox, for the fifth straight inning, added to the scoreboard as Ramirez scored Dunn on a two-out single in the seventh off of C.C. Lee. They made it six straight with a bases loaded walk by Dunn after reliever Blake Wood walked the bases loaded in the eighth. The Indians walked nine in the game.
The Indians added a ninth inning run for the game’s final 9-6 score on an RBI-single from Raburn after Santana walked with two outs and moved into scoring position on catcher’s indifference.
“We did a pretty good job to fight back in that game,” said Francona. “It’s just hard to keep coming back. Gotta put up a zero at some point.”
The Indians fall to 5-6 on the season with their third straight loss. The White Sox improved to 6-5 and have sole possession of second place, trailing behind the Detroit Tigers.
Ramirez has now hit successfully in his first eleven games this season, becoming the first White Sox player to accomplish the feat since new Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas did it in 2000. Nine of those eleven games were multi-hit efforts by Thomas, who hit .478 during the streak. The stolen base in the seventh by Ramirez was the 100th of his career.
Felipe Paulino (0-1, 6.52) will make the start on Saturday for White Sox manager Robin Ventura. The lone right-hander scheduled to start for Chicago this series was tagged for six runs in four and one-third innings in a loss his last time out. Justin Masterson (0-0, 4.22) will oppose for Francona. He is looking for his first win of the season.
First pitch from U.S. Cellular is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET. Broadcasts will be available on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio, WGN, and the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.
Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images