The Indians’ day revolved around the strike out and the home run.
After two stellar pitching performances from Justin Masterson and Zach McAllister the past two games, today’s game gave the Indians a chance to get a rare sweep over the Chicago White Sox. The questions of the day were how was Brett Myers going to pitch, which was answered with a strong performance, and how were the Tribe batters going to do against Jake Peavy on the mound.
The problems started when you look at the answer to the second question.
The Tribe quickly jumped on Peavy with a first pitch home run to deep right field by Michael Bourn to make it a 1-0 first inning for the Indians. This would end up being one of Peavy’s few mistakes he would make during this game.
The Indians went down in order for an uneventful second inning. Jason Giambi popped up on his first pitch taken as an Indian. Ryan Raburn and Lonnie Chisenhall followed by both grounding out to end the inning.
Conor Gillaspie led off the third inning with the first hit of the day for the White Sox, a lead off single just past the outstretched glove of Raburn. No damage was done as it was followed by a fielder’s choice, a strike out, and a groundout.
Yan Gomes started off the bottom of the third with a well-hit fly ball out to centerfield, followed by Bourn and Cabrera strikeouts.
Chicago opened the fourth inning with back-to-back singles from Keppinger and Rios. Myers, however, came back nicely, striking out Dunn for the first out, then getting Konerko and Viciedo to pop up for the second and third outs.
The Indians offense continued to struggle against Peavy in the fourth inning with a Brantley popup and back-to-back strikeouts from Swisher and Reynolds.
The fifth inning started the same way the third and fourth innings did for the White Sox with a leadoff Gillaspie single. The next batter, Ramirez, popped up. With Tyler Flowers up to the plate, Gillaspie got caught stealing on a perfect throw from Gomes, only to have Flowers hit an off the wall double that would have scored Gillaspie. De Aza ended the inning with a groundball hit right to Reynolds at first.
Giambi led off the fifth inning for the Indians with a popup to left field. Raburn finally got the Indians first hit since the first inning on a single, only to get picked off by Peavy at first. Chisenhall ended the inning by striking out looking.
The sixth inning started with an error by Chisenhall, allowed Keppinger to reach, a mistake that was quickly erased by a nice six-four-three double play from Rios. Myers walked Dunn, bringing Konerko up to the plate. Konerko hit a home run to deep left field to give Chiacgo their first lead of the day 2-1. Viciedo popped up in the next at bat to end the inning.
The Tribe had a chance in the bottom of the sixth inning, with Bourn hitting a one-out single. Unfortunately the chance was wasted by a Cabrera strike out, his third of the day, and a Brantley lineout.
Myers’ day was over after the sixth inning. He allowed two earned runs on six hits in six innings. He struck out four in his best appearance so far for Cleveland.
“He threw the ball very well,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “For him, it’s always going to be locating his fastball. But off of that, he threw some cutters in to lefties, he can spin the breaking ball, throw a change up. It starts with your fastball.”
“I felt comfortable today. I was able to get the ball down and it showed,” Myers said. “I worked well with [Gomes] back there. He had a good game plan. We talked about it before the game. He called a great game back there and just one pitch cost me. It all comes down to when you’re able to locate the fastball down in the zone. Everything works off of that.”
The Tribe brought in Brian Shaw for the seventh inning. He came in sharp right away striking out Gillaspie, popping up Ramirez, and striking out Flowers.
In the seventh inning, Cleveland had another key chance to tie it up again but could not capitalize. The inning started with a Swisher popup but was followed up by nice ten-pitch at bat ending in a single for Reynolds, who was replaced by Drew Stubbs for speed on the base path. He was never given a chance to use it as Giambi popped up and Raburn struck out.
Vinnie Pestano came in for the eighth inning, He struggled right away out of the bullpen, giving up a leadoff homer to De Aza and a single to Keppinger. After the first two batters, Pestano settled down and got the next three out, popping up Rios, striking out Dunn and popping up Konerko.
Peavy’s day was over after the seventh inning. He allowed just one run on five hits and struck out eleven in seven innings of work.
“He controls the running game, holds the ball, and is quick when he needs to be,” Francona said. “He throws a two-seamer to lefties, front door, where he opens up the plate. [Bourn] kind of ambushed him first pitch of the game and after that, we didn’t have many opportunities to score until late. Just a really good veteran pitcher.”
The White Sox brought in reliever Matt Thornton to replace Peavy. Chisenhall started the inning striking out. Gomes popped up to first after hitting a ball directly off of his ankle the pitch before. Bourn had a nice two-out single, using his speed to beat out Thornton to first base. The bad news, however, was his hand was stepped on by Thornton on the play while sliding head first into first and he had to leave the game, bringing Mike Aviles into the game. The next batter, Cabrera came in and grounded out to Gillaspie to end the inning.
The Indians sent in Chris Perez for the ninth inning, an uncommon occurrence when the Indians do not have the lead. Despite the unusual setting for Perez, the results were no different, as the Viciedo struck out, Gillapie ground out, and Ramirez popped up.
The White Sox brought in their closer Addison Reed for the ninth. Reed quickly got through the first two batters, getting Brantley to ground out and Swisher to pop up. The next batter up was Carlos Santana, who came in to pinch hit. He came in and worked a ten-pitch at bat, including a long foul ball that barely missed being a home run. Santana ended up walking, bringing Giambi up to bat. Despite getting the tying man to the plate, all the Indians could muster is a popup to center field.
The news out of the clubhouse on Bourn was that he suffered a right hand laceration.
“His right index finger, it got a slash, like a flap of skin so they had to put some stitches in there,” Francona said. “I don’t know how many or what that means. He’s going to be evaluated probably right now and further. We’ll figure it out. You don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but he’s doing his best to get to first.”
Myers (0-2, 8.82 ERA) is given the loss today despite ending the game with a solid stat line. He finished with six innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, one walk and one home run.
Peavy (2-1, 3.93) gets the win for the game, with Reed picking up his fourth save.
Despite the final score of 3-1, the Indians win the series 2-1. The loss, however, drops them back below .500 with a record of 5-6. The White Sox move up to 5-7 on the year.
The Indians have the day off tomorrow before starting a series with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday in Cleveland. Projected starters are Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1, 6.97) for the Indians and Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40) for the Red Sox.
Photo: AP Photo / Mark Duncan