Kluber’s Start and Big Triples Send Tribe to Series Win in Chicago; Indians 4, White Sox 3
Bob Toth | On 25, May 2016
Corey Kluber threw his second consecutive strong start and the bottom of the Indians lineup delivered for their normally under-supported ace as Cleveland knocked off Chicago, 4-3, to take the series from the White Sox and pull within a half game of first place in the American League Central.
The Indians offense didn’t get Kluber a ton of runs, but they got most of them early and the Indians ace made all four of them count. His defense and his bullpen, however, nearly let him down.
Cleveland jumped on top in the second after Carlos Santana led off the inning against Jose Quintana with a bloop single to right. He was erased on a fielder’s choice at second, but the White Sox were unable to turn the double play on Juan Uribe. The missed out would loom large quickly, as Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch and Marlon Byrd lined out deep to the track in right field before Lonnie Chisenhall delivered a clutch two-out, two-run triple past a diving Adam Eaton to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.
Kluber got an extra run of support in the third after Jose Ramirez singled to left to start the frame. With Mike Napoli at the plate, Ramirez was picked off of first, but the umpires ruled instead that Quintana balked. With Ramirez now at second, Napoli struck out but Santana moved Ramirez to third on a single to left. Uribe lofted a fly ball deep enough for Ramirez to score and the Indians lead grew to three.
The White Sox scored their first run in the sixth as the Indians looked like a little league team. Todd Frazier walked to start the inning before Kluber retired the next two. Frazier broke for second with Brett Lawrie at the plate, but catcher Gomes missed the target at second base, allowing Frazier to continue around the bases. Rajai Davis attempted to recover the ball in center but bobbled it himself, allowing the Sox slugger to score all the way from first base on the two errors to make it a 3-1 game.
Cleveland tacked on that ever important insurance run in the top of the eighth with another big two-out three-bagger. Napoli singled, moved to second one out later on a wild pitch, and to third on a groundout from Uribe. Against reliever Dan Jennings, Gomes ripped a triple into left, aided by a lazy effort from left fielder Melky Cabrera in retrieving the baseball. Napoli scored to make it 4-1.
Cabrera made it a ball game in the bottom of the eighth after Kluber returned to the mound. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a single before the Indians starter struck out the final batter he faced, Frazier. Bryan Shaw relieved and promptly coughed up a two-run blast to Cabrera to cut the Cleveland lead to one.
Cleveland (25-20) extended their winning streak to three straight with the nail biter. They concluded their road trip with a 6-3 record after sweeping a pair in Cincinnati and taking one in Boston before winning three of four from the White Sox. The Indians’ loss total is now less than that of the White Sox (27-21), who have played three more games than the Tribe this season. Chicago’s lead has now shrunk to half a game in the AL Central.
“It’s been a fun trip. Good trip for us,” said Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo after the game. “I really do get excited. I can’t wait for these games to start. Today was just like yesterday, got a tough matchup with Quintana. It was fun. They really came out and did a great job, had great at bats, and really competed.”
Kluber (4-5, 3.78 ERA) handed the game over to the bullpen after completing seven and one-third innings on the mound. He allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits, walked one, and struck out nine. He needed 106 pitches to get through seven in his quality start, including 76 strikes.
“He used all his pitches. He pitched in. On a hot day,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “I thought he was outstanding. There’s been a couple hiccups, but I promise the day he pitches we’re thrilled. He works too hard. He’s too much of a pro. That’s a hard game to win. We got a little sloppy at times. He really pitched well.”
With his seventh strikeout of the day, Kluber moved into 20th place all-time on the Indians career strikeout list with 774, passing Gaylord Perry. With his ninth and final strikeout of the afternoon, he passed Willie Mitchell’s 775 for sole possession of 19th place.
At 776 strikeouts in his career, Kluber’s next target on his K hit list is Greg Swindell, who had 777 in his Cleveland career.
SHAW’S STRUGGLES CONTINUE
The homer allowed by Shaw was the fifth he has given up this season and the second to the White Sox this year. He had allowed just two earned runs over his last 17 appearances.
BOTTOM HALF OF ORDER DOING WORK
All four Indians runs were driven in by the bottom half of the lineup. Uribe contributed a sacrifice fly, while an unlikely duo of Chisenhall and Gomes contributed runs on triples.
QUINTANA PROVIDES SOX WITH A QUALITY START
Despite a lofty pitch count through the first three innings, Quintana somehow lasted six innings for Robin Ventura’s White Sox on Wednesday. He allowed three runs on five hits, walked one, and struck out eight, throwing 115 pitches. It was another case of lack of support for Quintana, who, like Kluber, has lacked runs on the mound throughout his career.
Quintana, who had not hit a batter in 59 innings to start the season, plunked Ramirez in the first and Gomes in the second. The latter runner would score a big early run for the Tribe.
It was just the second time in 15 games pitched in his career that Quintana has been charged with a loss against the Indians.
ABREU HEATING UP
Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is heating up, just in time for the Indians to get out of town. He put together back-to-back 3-for-4 days at the plate to boost his batting average to .258 for the season.
SOMETHING IN THE ERROR
The Indians committed an unusual three errors in Wednesday’s finale. Napoli was charged an error on a catch, while Gomes was hit with a throwing error and Davis a bobble on the same stolen base from Frazier in the sixth.
WELL DESERVED DAY OFF
Francisco Lindor, who was 3-for-13 in the first three games of the series against the White Sox, got his first day off of the season in the finale on Wednesday. Coupled with a day off on Thursday, he will be well rested in time for the Indians’ next series. He was hitless in eight at bats in Monday’s doubleheader before going 3-for-5 on Tuesday. It was his sixth multi-hit game in his last ten games.
The Indians have Thursday off before beginning a nice extended homestand. They will host the Baltimore Orioles beginning on Friday for three games. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.31) is the scheduled starter for Cleveland. Baltimore will send out Mike Wright (2-3, 4.97).
First pitch from Progressive Field on Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/David Banks