Shields Shelled Early as Tribe Socks Sox; Indians 13, White Sox 2
Bob Toth | On 18, Jun 2016
There was no waiting until the bottom of the ninth for fireworks and dramatics in Cleveland as the Indians scored early and scored often in securing an easy 13-2 win in front of a large crowd at Progressive Field on Saturday.
James Shields appears to be a shell of his former self, as the poor start he got off to in San Diego continued in his first start against the Indians since 2014. The second-largest paid crowd of the season at Progressive Field, 31,066 cheering fans, was present to enjoy it.
After a quick three up, three down inning from Danny Salazar to begin the game, Shields walked leadoff man and Friday night’s hero Carlos Santana on four pitches to start the home half. Jason Kipnis doubled to left and a single from Francisco Lindor to right scored Santana and the Indians were off to the races. After falling behind 2-0 to Mike Napoli, the Indians slugger, marred in another 0-for-16 slump at the plate, drove pitch three the opposite way to right and into the seats for a three-run shot to give the Indians a 4-0 advantage.
The Indians kept the line moving as Jose Ramirez doubled before Shields struck out Juan Uribe for the first out of the inning. A five-pitch walk to Lonnie Chisenhall put another on before Yan Gomes flied to center for the second out. The ninth man to bat, Tyler Naquin, delivered a single to left to score another run before Santana lined to short to end the scoring.
Salazar took care of business again in the second, retiring the side in order before Shields took the mound again and repeated many of the problems he had in the first. He walked Kipnis to start the inning before a single from Lindor moved Kipnis to third. Lindor stole second before a strikeout of Napoli. The White Sox nearly escaped the inning as Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Jose Abreu throwing to the plate to retire Kipnis for the second out, but Uribe’s two-out single to left knocked in Lindor with the sixth run and ended the night of Shields before he could complete two frames.
Reliever Matt Purke took over for Robin Ventura and, like Shields before him, could not find the strike zone. Chisenhall walked on four straight to load the bases. The struggling Gomes saw four pitches and four balls to draw the walk, forcing home Ramirez to make it 7-0. With Naquin at the plate, catcher Dioner Navarro planted the ball in the ground well in front of third base while trying to throw behind the runner Uribe at third, allowing him to score easily and the other two runners to advance. Naquin would eventually draw a walk to load the bases before Santana fouled out to first to end the threat with the Indians up eight.
Salazar made it ten straight retired to start the game before a single by Adam Eaton in the fourth. A double by Abreu put two in scoring position and a walk to pinch-hitter Jason Coats loaded the bases, but Salazar struck out Todd Frazier swinging before a groundout by Navarro.
Naquin built on his big game in the fourth, as Uribe singled with one out and Gomes singled with two outs, setting the stage for his two-run triple to left to make it a 10-0 lead.
The Sox scored their lone runs of the night on one big swing in the sixth. Eaton singled before Abreu homered off of the right field foul pole to make it a 10-2 game.
The Indians got their final runs with a pair of blasts in the sixth against former Cleveland reliever Matt Albers. Ramirez walked and came home on a no-doubter to center from Uribe to make it 12-2. After a pair of fly outs from Chisenhall and Gomes, Naquin cleared his third hit of the game with a monstrous solo shot to right-center to put the final 13-2 mark on the scoreboard.
Cleveland (37-30) secured the series win over the White Sox and a strong start to their six-game homestand. They have now won six of their eight games against Chicago this season, including each of their last five. The White Sox (33-35) have dropped five of their last seven games and are a season-worst two games below the .500 mark.
The Indians sent ten men to the plate in the first inning off of Shields. They sent nine more to the plate in the second off of the White Sox starter and Purke in relief.
“It’s a good way to play,” said manager Terry Francona after the game. “It doesn’t happen very often. You take it when you can get it.”
STRONG START FOR SALAZAR
Salazar (8-3, 2.23 ERA) survived the long layoffs caused by the early offensive eruptions and kept the damage to a minimum, allowing just the two runs in the sixth inning after his teammates had staked him to a ten-run lead. He worked six and two-thirds innings on the night, giving up five hits and one walk while striking out seven. He threw 70 of his 108 pitches for strikes while earning his fourth straight win and his fifth in six starts.
“Danny’s stuff was so good,” said Francona. “You see the velocity, but his changeup almost looked like a breaking ball at times.”
It was the fewest walks issued by Salazar in a start in over a month, when he gave up just one in a similar 13-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on May 17.
Rookie Naquin continued his impressive offensive season in the Indians lineup. After delivering an RBI-single in the first, he walked in the second. In the fourth, he scored two on a triple. He homered in the sixth, leaving him needing just a double to become the first player to hit for the cycle in Progressive Field history and the first Indians player since Earl Averill in 1933 to cycle in Cleveland.
Instead, he drew his second walk of the night, taking the free pass from White Sox rookie Michael Ynoa. While he fell short of the cycle, he still was on base five times in as many plate appearances from the ninth spot in the order.
“It’s fun for the offense to come alive like that,” said Naquin, “everybody swinging the bat and hitting the ball all over the yard.”
LINDOR GETS SOME REST
The Tribe’s star shortstop was 3-for-4 at the plate before leaving in the sixth inning of the blowout. He singled in the first to drive in the first run of the game, singled again to set up the big second inning, and singled for a third consecutive inning with one out in the third. He grounded out in the fifth inning and Michael Martinez took over in his spot in the batting order while playing in left field and Ramirez moved in to play short.
URIBE BACK IN THE LINEUP
After missing four straight games after taking a one-hop shot to the midsection off of the bat of Mike Trout over the weekend, Uribe returned to the lineup and did so in a big way.
As is often the case, the ball will find those who might be susceptible, as the very first ball put into play in the game went to Uribe off of the bat of Sox leadoff hitter and rookie Tim Anderson. At the plate, he struck out in the first but drove in a run in the second with a single. He singled again in the fourth before launching a home run into the trees in center in the sixth. He flied out to right in his final at bat in the seventh.
The White Sox may have a problem with Shields (0-2, 21.81), who they acquired from the Padres in a trade on June 4. The 34-year-old veteran right-hander, in his third start for Chicago and his first on the road back in the American League, was tagged for eight runs on seven hits in one and two-thirds innings. He walked three and struck out two.
“It’s disappointing and we’ve got to figure this thing out,” said Shields. “We’ve got to keep going out there. That’s the only way to go. This is a special team and I’ve got to keep grinding.”
In three starts for the Pale Hose, Shields has pitched eight and two-thirds innings, allowing 22 runs (21 earned) on 24 hits with nine walks and five strikeouts. He has given up five home runs in that span. For the year, he is now 2-9.
ABREU SUPPLIES THE POWER
Abreu was the bulk of the White Sox offense on the night, going 3-for-4 with both runs batted in. He flied out in the first, doubled in the fourth, homered in the sixth, and singled in the eighth, coming up a triple short of his own cycle.
CABRERA EXITS INJURED
Melky Cabrera, injured while diving trying to make a catch in the third, left the game in the fourth for a pinch-hitter. X-rays on his right wrist were negative.
With the series win locked up, the Indians will go for a sweep of the Sox on a big Sunday from Cleveland. Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.40) will start for the Tribe, while the White Sox will counter with left-hander Carlos Rodon (2-6, 4.28).
First pitch from Progressive Field is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak