The Indians needed a good homestand to keep their wild card hopes alive. They couldn’t have scripted it much better.
Cleveland defeated the Chicago White Sox Wednesday evening 7-2 to complete a two-game sweep of the Pale Hose and a perfect six-game homestand. It was Cleveland’s 16th win against Chicago in 19 games this season and keeps the Tribe a game ahead of the Texas Rangers in the wild card standings. Danny Salazar gave the Indians five solid innings and Michael Brantley provided three hits while replacing Michael Bourn at the top of the lineup.
In the top of the second inning Avisail Garcia put the White Sox on the board with a solo home run to left field that gave Chicago an early 1-0 lead. The Indians would respond in the bottom of the second inning. After Jason Giambi received a standing ovation from the crowd for his heroics the night before, he drove a single into right field. Later in the inning Marcus Semien had an error which opened the door for Drew Stubbs who took advantage of a runner in scoring position.
Stubbs singled and Lonnie Chisenhall scored from second. Stubbs with heads up base running made it to second when Chicago attempted to throw to get Chisenhall out at home. The Indians tied the game at one. But the Indians were not done yet as Brantley singled to center, allowing the speedy Stubbs to score easily from second putting the Indians in front 2-1.
Salazar worked himself into a jam in the top of the fifth with two on and two out. He battled Leury Garcia and got him to strike out swinging and to get himself and the Indians out of the jam.
In the bottom of the fifth Brantley doubled off the wall in right. Later with one out Swisher homered to center to increase the Indians lead to 4-1. It was Swisher’s team-leading, 21st home run of the season.
In the sixth inning Carlos Santana made a great diving play to stop the ball in the infield and threw it to Salazar at first. The ball wasn’t on target and Salazar twisted his ankle on first base but was able to stay in the game. Garcia singled to left and then Indians manager Terry Francona decided to pull Salazar, leaving men on first and second with only one out. Bryan Shaw gave up a base hit to Dayan Viciedo and drove in a White Sox to make the score 4-2. But on the throw home the Indians had the runners in a pickle, Chicago managed to get back to first and second without getting an out. Shaw went on to strike out Jordan Danks and Semin to get the Indians out of trouble.
In the bottom of the sixth Stubbs flied out to center to allow Cabrera to score on a sacrifice fly. That added another insurance run increasing Cleveland’s lead 5-2. Chicago would relieved Axelrod and put in Charlie Leesman. Leesman would get Brantley to ground out to first on five pitches stranding Bourn on second base who pinch ran for Giambi.
In the bottom of the seventh Kipnis was hit by a pitch. He stole second and was able to advance to third on a bad throw by Josh Phegley. Santana was walked and the Tribe had runners on the corners with only one down. Chicago went to the bullpen going with righty Jake Petricka. The Indians pinch ran Santana with Matt Carson. Carson stole second base and Cabrera came through in the clutch with some two out magic hitting a single to center field. This gave the Indians a 7-2 lead.
In the ninth inning Francona brought in Cleveland Indians ace Justin Masterson to close out the game. Masterson struck out two and got the final batter to ground out to Mike Aviles. Masterson finished with 17 pitches. It was his first appearance since straining an oblique muscle on Sept. 2.
Salazar (2-3) finished the game pitching five and one-third innings allowing six hits and two earned runs. He allowed one walk while striking out eight Chicago batters. Indians pitching combined for 16 strikeouts allowing eight hits and only one walk.
The Cleveland Indians sent the crowd of 30,942 home happy with a 7-2 victory. With the win Cleveland improves to a 87-70 record. With the loss the White Sox drop to 62-95. The Indians will travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins for a four game series to finish out the regular season. The series starts Thursday with a 8:10 p.m. first pitch. Zach McAllister (9-9, 3.88) will try to keep the Indians streaking toward a postseason spot while Andrew Albers (2-4, 3.98) will pitch for the Twins.