Bend, but don’t break was the storyline on Sunday.
Both Trevor Bauer for the Indians and John Danks for the White Sox did just that in the first half finale. Bauer and Danks each worked in and out of jams all afternoon, but both allowed few runs. Bauer was able to pitch into the seventh, pitching shut out baseball and leaving with the lead, but the bullpen squandered away a win and the offense struggled for most of the game until Yan Gomes bailed everyone out with a two-run home run to right field in the eight inning, giving Cleveland a 3-2 victory. Cleveland struggled all afternoon to hit with runners in scoring position, but Gomes provided all the offense the team needed and drove in all three runs.
The win gives the three game series to the Tribe and leaves Cleveland at 47-47 as they head to the All-Star break. Cleveland trails Detroit by 8.5 games in the American League Central Division.
Cleveland jumped on top in the bottom of the second inning, giving Bauer some early run support. Ryan Raburn walked with one out and Nick Swisher and Gomes followed with back-to-back singles. Gomes single to center field off Danks scored Raburn and gave the Tribe an early 1-0 lead. Cleveland could have added on as Lonnie Chisenhall reached base on a throwing error to load the bases, but Danks struck out both Mike Aviles and Jason Kipnis to strand the trio.
The Tribe had chances to score in the third and fourth innings off Danks, logging hits and getting runners to scoring position, but could not get the base hit to drive them in. In the third inning Swisher could not get the two-out base hit with a pair in scoring position. In the fourth inning the Indians had two in scoring position with one out, while Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera could not drive home the run.
Meanwhile, Bauer was dancing out of his own trouble. Bauer allowed four hits in the first two innings, but did not allow a run. He benefitted from a double play in the second inning, cushioning the blow of back-to-back singles by Tyler Flowers and Leury Garcia. In the fourth inning Bauer struck out the side, surrounded by a soft double from Flowers down the right field line. In the fifth, he struck out a pair and worked around Jose Abreu’s single to center field.
Bauer got stronger as the game progressed, using his curveball and ramping up the radar gun to 96-97 m.p.h. with his fastball when he needed it. His best Houdini-act may have come in the sixth inning when he allowed a leadoff single to Dayan Viciedo and walk to Conor Gillaspie to put a pair of White Sox on with no one out. Bauer struck out Gordon Beckham, got Flowers to hit into a fielder’s choice in front of the plate that Gomes was able to cut down the lead runner with, then strike out Garcia swinging to end the inning.
The Indians squandered another opportunity in the bottom of the sixth inning as Danks got out of another jam. After Danks retired the first two Tribesmen on ground balls, Chisenhall singled to center field and Mike Aviles singled to right before Kipnis was hit-by-pitch to load the bases. Cabrera, for the second time, could not come up with a two-out base hit to add to the Tribe lead and for the second time on the day Cleveland left the bases loaded. Cabrera is now 2-for-42 on the season with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Bauer retired the first two White Sox in the seventh inning before giving up an opposite field single to Abreu for his third hit of the day. Marc Rzepczynski came on to get Adam Dunn to hit a weak flare to second base and end the inning. Bauer had possibly his best start as an Indian, pitching six and two-third innings, allowing no runs while scattering eight hits and three walks and striking out a career-high 10 batters. Bauer threw 117 pitches, just two short of his 119 back on June 16 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Danks, meanwhile, was able to pitch seven, strong innings, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four. His afternoon could have been much worse as the Indians stranded 10 base runners, including eight in scoring position during his seven innings. Leaving the Tribe stranded turned out to be quite beneficial to he and the White Sox.
Bauer certainly pitched well enough to win, but it was not meant to be on this day as the bullpen that has been so reliable of late could not hold the lead. Bryan Shaw came on to pitch the eighth inning and after striking out Dayan Viciedo to start the inning, Gillaspie singled to center field and quickly advanced to second on a wild pitch. Beckham made Shaw (4-1) pay for his wild pitch with a single to center field that allowed Viciedo to score and tie the game, 1-1.
Chicago made the most of their opportunity, taking advantage where the Indians previously had not. Flowers tapped out to first base, allowing Beckham to advance to second base and Garcia singled to center field with two outs to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead. Ruled a base hit, the Garcia single was a backhand play Kipnis normally makes.
But Cleveland continued to bend and not break until Gomes could come through again and save Shaw and the Indians offense. Javy Guerra (0-2) entered the game in relief for Chicago in the eighth and was greeted with offense after Cleveland struggled all afternoon. Swisher started the inning with a single to left field and Gomes then sliced a two-run home run just over the fence and into the White Sox bullpen to allow Cleveland to retake the lead. Gomes 12th home run of the season put the Indians up 3-2 and in place to steal back the win they nearly gave away.
Cody Allen came on to pitch the ninth inning and earn his 12th save of the season. Allen earned his save, getting Abreu to ground out, Dunn to strike out looking and Viciedo to strike out swinging to secure the come-from-behind win. Allen has now allowed just one hit in his last 11.1 innings pitched. Allen struck out both Dunn and Viciedo on breaking balls, bringing the crowd of 18,070 to their feet.
The come-from-behind victory will easily erase the Tribe’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Both Kipnis and Cabrera stranded five runners on the afternoon. Gomes’ two hits were the necessary knocks to give the Indians the win.
Cleveland now heads to the All-Star break at .500 and trying to remain in the American League Central Division and Wild Card races. They’ll have a chance to make ground in each when they resume action on Friday in Detroit against the division leading Tigers. Bauer will be back on the mound Friday night to open the second half of the season. Cleveland plays four games in three days against the Motor City Kitties as they start the second half of the season.
Photo: Mark Duncan/AP Photo