Age and wisdom often run together. For Jason Giambi, pinch-hit home runs are part of the package too.
Giambi has two pinch-hits this season for the Tribe, both are home runs, earning his second in walkoff fashion Monday night, giving the Indians a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
The pinch-hit home run by Giambi extended the Indians win streak to five games and wiped away an evening of stranded base runners and missed opportunities. Before late-inning miscues and squandered opportunities were a story, the game was a matchup of two, rebounding pitchers, Zach McAllister and John Danks.
Cleveland took an early lead in the second inning with some help from the White Sox defense. Asdrubal Cabrera reached safely on White Sox third baseman Connor Gillaspie’s throwing error. Ryan Raburn remained hot when he doubled, putting runners on second and third with no one out. Carlos Santana flew out to left field, allowing Cabrera to hustle home and Raburn to take third.
Staked with a 1-0 lead, however, the Indians couldn’t get Raburn home. After Mark Reynolds walked, Mike Aviles lined out to shortstop with a chance to add on more. Drew Stubbs then flied to center to end the inning.
McAllister looked very good in his second start since coming off the disabled list. He did not allow a hit in the first three innings and worked around a single in the fourth and a double in the fifth inning. The tall, right-hander is rebounding nicely from a finger injury that sidelined him for six weeks.
In the sixth inning the White Sox finally mustered a rally. After two were gone, Alex Rios doubled to right field, followed by another double from Adam Dunn. Dunn’s two-base hit scored Rios and tied the game at one. Paul Konerko singled to center field and Dunn lumbered home, giving the White Sox a 2-1 lead.
Clinging to just their one hit and one run, the Indians made the most of their next hit off Danks—even if it only went 60 feet. In the bottom of the sixth Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher walked to start the inning and Jason Kipnis dropped a bunt down the third base line that Gillaspie could not make a play on. Kipnis’ bunt single loaded the bases for the Tribe with no one out. Cabrera scorched a one-bounce smash to shortstop, but Alexei Ramirez’s flip to second was wide of the bag and they relayed to first to get Cabrera for their lone out while Bourn scored and runners advanced to second and third.
Now tied at two, the Indians again had a chance to tally more runs but Raburn grounded back to the pitcher and Santana grounded out to shortstop to leave two runners in scoring position.
Cleveland had a chance to score in the bottom of the seventh inning, but squandered another opportunity. Mark Reynolds walked to start the inning and end the evening for Danks. Matt Lindstrom relieved Danks and retired Mike Aviles when he bunted Reynolds to second base. After Michael Brantley was announced as a pinch hitter for Drew Stubbs, Donnie Veal came on to set up a left-on-left matchup. Veal struck out Brantley for the second out of the inning. Reynolds was able to advance to third on a wild pitch and Bourn walked to put runners on the corners, but Swisher bounced out to third to end the inning and a chance to take the lead.
Danks did not record an out in the seventh, officially going six innings, allowing just two hits and two runs—one earned—and four walks and three strikeouts. McAllister saw his evening come to a close with a no decision after seven innings, scattering five hits and allowing two runs, including a walk and two strikeouts. With the exception of the three straight hits in the sixth inning, McAllister was very strong in just his second start since returning from the disabled list, looking like the quality starter he was before injuring his finger in early June.
The White Sox had chances to score in the eighth and ninth. After Ramirez was called safe on a terrible call at second base by umpire D.J. Reyburn, he advanced to third on a sacrifice fly. Rich Hill came on and struck out Dunn to end the inning and strand Ramirez. In the ninth, Dayan Viciedo hit a two-out triple when Raburn misplayed the ball in right field, but Michael Brantley made a nice snag on Gordon Beckham’s liner to left field to strand a White Sox player at third base for the second straight inning.
The Indians needs just one hitter, Giambi, in the ninth. His pinch-hit homer off Ramon Troncoso to the trees in center field gave the Indians a 3-2 walkoff victory and their fifth straight win. It was Giambi’s ninth career walkoff home run and 10th pinch-hit home run of his career, in addition to his 436th homer of his career. Giambi is third most among active players in homers and 40th all-time.
Troncoso (1-3) takes the loss for Chicago, while Chris Perez (3-1) earns the win with an inning of relief in the ninth inning.
Tomorrow the Indians will try to extend their winning steak to six games when left-hander Scott Kazmir (6-4, 3.96) continues on his comeback trail. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Jake Peavy (8-4, 4.28) of the White Sox. Peavy has been rumored in trade speculation all week, so he could be scratched at any moment.
Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo