Sox Bats Awaken from Slumber to Avoid Tribe Sweep; White Sox 6, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 23, Apr 2017
After being dormant all series long and for much of the past week and a half, the Chicago bats woke up against Cleveland starter Danny Salazar early and added some unearned insurance runs late as the White Sox avoided the home sweep by the Indians on Sunday with a 6-2 victory.
Salazar lost his way on the mound in the first inning, but was eventually able to find himself to give the Tribe five innings, sparing a bullpen that was up in the first inning preparing for the worst case scenario. A rough first frame was made all the more difficult as the Indians’ opposition on the afternoon was nemesis Derek Holland, who had flourished against Cleveland in ten starts coming in to the day.
For much of the first inning, it may have looked like Salazar was throwing batting practice as nine men stepped to the box against him. Tim Anderson started the home half with a double to center and moved to third on a single to left by Tyler Saladino. A sacrifice fly from Melky Cabrera had the White Sox on the board just nine pitches into the afternoon. The slumping Jose Abreu jumped in on the party and singled to right, scoring Saladino as right fielder Abraham Almonte misplayed the ball. Todd Frazier drew an eight-pitch walk before Salazar retired the second batter of the inning, getting the white-hot Avisail Garcia to strike out swinging on three pitches. With a chance to get out of the inning and leave Abreu stranded at third, Leury Garcia instead singled to center to drive in the third run of the inning, which would prove to be more than enough for Holland.
The White Sox starter did have some traffic in the early innings. After retiring the side in order in the first, he gave up a one-out single to Jose Ramirez in the second, but erased him on a double play. Roberto Perez drew a walk in the third with one out, but he would be retired at second base on a fielder’s choice two batters later to end the inning.
Salazar settled down after the early onslaught. He struck out Jacob May to stop the bleeding in the first and struck out the side in order in the second. An Abreu leadoff single in the third would prove harmless on an inning ending double play from A. Garcia in the third.
The Indians got on the board in the fourth as Francisco Lindor delivered with a homer to left. His fifth shot of the season made it a 3-1 game.
Salazar struck out three more batters in the fourth inning, wedging an Omar Narvaez single with one out and a walk by Anderson with two outs in between. The Indians nearly capitalized in the next half inning, but would be unable to score in their biggest missed opportunity of the day. Austin Jackson doubled to start the inning before a walk by Almonte. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch before Perez struck out looking. Michael Martinez followed suit before a walk to Carlos Santana loaded the bases. With one of their best hitters at the plate in Lindor, Holland struck him out swinging to leave the bags full and the score still 3-1.
The missed runs proved to be costly as the Sox added another tally in their next at bats. Abreu was plunked by a Salazar with one out and after a strikeout by Frazier, A. Garcia doubled Abreu in to give the Sox a 4-1 lead.
Holland hit Edwin Encarnacion with a one-out pitch in the sixth, but got a double play ball with the final pitch of his afternoon before his club tacked on another run in the home half. Boone Logan, coming on for Salazar, walked the leadoff hitter Narvaez and May attempted to sacrifice him to second but reached on an error by Martinez. Nick Goody came in after warming in the first inning and struck out the first two men he faced before a single from Cabrera made it a 5-1 game.
The White Sox extended the lead to 6-1 in the eighth against Bryan Shaw, again receiving help from a rare Indians error. May walked and moved to second on a single by Anderson. Shaw struck out the next two batters but with a chance to end the inning, Abreu reached safely on an error by Santana that allowed May to score. Frazier grounded into a force out to end the inning.
After stranding two more runners in the seventh and one in scoring position in the eighth, the Indians’ late rally attempt would fall short against closer David Robertson. Lonnie Chisenhall pinch-hit for Jackson and doubled to left. He moved to third on a fly out by Almonte and Jason Kipnis drew a pinch-hit walk to put runners on the corners. Yan Gomes came off of the bench but popped up to first for Martinez for the second out. Kipnis picked off second on indifference and a wild pitch from Robertson allowed Chisenhall to score and Kipnis to move up 90 feet, but Santana would strike out looking at a 3-2 offering to end the game and the road trip.
Cleveland (10-8) took the first loss of their two-city road trip in the series finale. Despite the loss on Sunday, the bats were much more alive during the trip as the Tribe scored 32 runs in the six games while allowing just 13. The White Sox (8-9) matched their offensive output of the last five games combined with their six-run burst on Sunday. They had scored just 14 runs over their previous eight contests, but had won some close games in that span behind good pitching.
Holland improved to 2-2 on the season with his second win over the Tribe, while Salazar fell to 1-2 on the year.
HOLLAND CONTINUES TO OWN TRIBE
Holland was not unhittable on Sunday as he was for much of his previous start against Cleveland this season, but the Indians still struggled against the southpaw. He worked another quality start, going six innings while allowing just the one run on the Lindor homer and three hits in total with three walks and six strikeouts.
With the win, Holland improves to 7-1 in eleven career starts against Cleveland.
Every starter in the Sox lineup got at least one hit with the exception of May, the rookie outfielder. He notched his first Major League hit on Saturday night after beginning his career in an 0-for-26 slump.
He did reach base safely in Sunday’s game with a walk and came around to score his second run of the season in the eighth after reaching on a fielding error on the attempted sacrifice.
SALAZAR SURVIVES EARLY TROUBLE TO GO FIVE
After the early first inning struggles, it is a testament to the maturity that Salazar has gained on the mound that he was able to give the Indians five full innings before exiting.
He was charged with four runs on seven hits while walking three batters and striking out nine. In two starts against the White Sox this season (both losses), he has allowed six runs over 11 innings with 11 hits surrendered and 20 strikeouts (16.4 per nine innings).
DAY OF REST
Both Michael Brantley and Kipnis were notably absent from the starting lineup for the Indians against a tough starter in Holland. Brantley, in the midst of a nice eight-game hitting streak, will benefit from a pair of days off while the team continues to use caution with the left fielder despite the strong start to his season. Kipnis entered the game in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter for the catcher Perez and drew a walk.
After a week away, the Indians will return home with five more wins and one more loss to their credit. They will begin their second homestand of the season on Tuesday as they welcome in a pair of AL West teams this week in the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners. The White Sox will stay put at Guaranteed Rate Field as they host the Kansas City Royals beginning Monday.
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images