Home runs were the big story of the day on Monday afternoon as Brett Lawrie’s three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth put the White Sox back on top for good and Chicago held off a late charge as the Cleveland Indians fell 7-6 in a close game one of a doubleheader.
Down four runs heading into the eighth, the Indians plated three in the inning and got a leadoff walk from Rajai Davis to start the ninth inning against Chicago closer David Robertson. He stole second as Marlon Byrd went down swinging and had to stay put when Michael Martinez swung at one in the dirt for the second out. Carlos Santana bounced a grounder to second to end it, giving Robertson his 12th save of the season and pushing Chicago’s lead in the American League Central to three and a half games over Cleveland.
The launching pad began operations in the bottom of the first inning as the two teams would combine to hit five home runs on the afternoon.
The Sox started the scoring in the first with two outs against Indians rookie starter Mike Clevinger, making his second start of the season for Cleveland. Todd Frazier slugged a 2-0 pitch to the seats in left to give Chicago the early advantage. It was his second homer in as many days for the reigning Home Run Derby champion.
Cleveland evened the score four pitches into the top half of the second, when Mike Napoli broke out of a big slump with a clout to left off of Chicago starter Mat Latos.
The home team moved back out in front in the third when Austin Jackson doubled to left to lead off the inning. Adam Eaton moved him to third with a grounder to second and Jackson scored easily on a single to right, making it a 2-1 game. They added another in the home half of the fourth, when Lawrie reached on an infield single to Francisco Lindor, stole second after a strikeout of Carlos Sanchez, and moved to third on a groundout by Dioner Navarro. He scored on a two-out single to right from Jackson, who had three hits on the afternoon.
The Tribe tied things up in the top of the fifth after a leadoff single from Lonnie Chisenhall. Byrd mashed a two-run homer to right-center off of Latos to make it a 3-3 game. Martinez followed with a double over the head of the right fielder and advanced to third on a grounder with one out, but Jason Kipnis grounded out and Lindor popped to short to leave him stranded.
Lawrie clobbered a mistake from Clevinger in the fifth to give Chicago the lead for good. Frazier singled to center with one out and stole second base easily before a walk to Melky Cabrera. After Jose Abreu popped to short for the second out, Clevinger got ahead in the count on Lawrie but missed on a pair of breaking balls to load the count. The payoff pitch was left middle-middle and Lawrie relocated it deep to the seats in left. The three-run blast gave the White Sox a 6-3 lead.
Chicago added an insurance run, ultimately the deciding run, in the seventh as the Indians usually reliable defense failed them. Cabrera reached on a two-base error in center by Davis, who dropped an easy out on the move. Abreu reached safely on an error by Kipnis to put runners on the corners. Dan Otero walked Lawrie on five pitches before Sanchez sent a liner to Martinez in right. He made the catch and uncorked a strike to home play, hitting catcher Yan Gomes on the fly for the double play, erasing Cabrera, who was trying to tag and score. Navarro worked a walk, leading to the end of the day for Otero, but Jackson worked a bases loaded walk against Austin Adams to make it 7-3.
“We were a little bit sloppy the one inning,” said Indians manager Terry Francona in the break between the two games. “It led to an attack, it ended up being probably the game-winning run.”
Not quite done, the Indians countered the Sox run with more of their own with their response in the eighth against reliever Zach Duke. Santana walked and moved to third on a double from Kipnis, bringing Robin Ventura out of the dugout for former Indians reliever Matt Albers. He got Lindor to line to short, but Napoli grounded Santana home with a shot to third. Then, Ramirez ended a ten-pitch at bat with authority, sending a two-run homer to right to make it a one-run game.
Cleveland (22-20) has now dropped three straight games with their loss to Chicago. They are 11-12 on the road this season and 1-2 in Chicago. The White Sox (27-18) held on for the win, their second in a row, and improved to 13-9 at home. The win also ensures that the Indians will not surpass them in the standings, regardless of the outcome of the final three games of the series.
QUALITY START FROM LATOS
Latos (6-1, 4.06 ERA) gave Chicago a quality start on the mound, despite giving up a pair of home runs on the afternoon. He was charged with three runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts while throwing only 83 pitches.
PLENTY OF ACTION FROM JACKSON
Jackson, who was a rumored player of interest to the Indians in the offseason, went 3-for-3 against the Tribe on Monday afternoon with two singles, a double, a walk, and one run scored. He drove in two of the seven White Sox runs.
FOUR TIMES ON BASE FOR FRAZIER
Frazier, another player linked to Cleveland in the offseason before he was dealt by the Cincinnati Reds to Chicago, reached base four times in five trips to the plate with a pair of walks, a single, and a solo home run. He scored twice while improving his batting average to .236.
His home run in the first was his 14th of the season, leading the league.
Clevinger (0-1, 8.71) took his first loss of his Major League career after two home runs spoiled his second career start. He was charged with six runs on seven hits over five innings. He walked three batters and struck out four, using 94 pitches (51 strikes) to get through his outing.
BIG GAME FROM MARTINEZ
Recently called up Indians utility man Martinez made his mark on the game for Cleveland, going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. He started the game in center field and moved to right field late, making a dynamite throw on a fly ball in the seventh inning to gun down Cabrera at the plate.
“It looked like it had a chance, if not give us a chance to win, at least make them use Robertson,” said Francona. “Again, in a doubleheader, we’d like to make them use their bullpen, which they did. It actually gave us a chance to win on top of it. That was a really good play. That was a heckuva throw and it just kinda turned a terrible situation into two out and first and second.
“He gave us a big lift. That last at bat, he had a really good at bat, he ended up getting a little over-anxious. That kid, Robertson, is just chewing up left-handers. But Michael swung the bat very well.”
RAMIREZ FEELING RISPY
With his two-run homer in the eighth, Ramirez improved to 8-for-19 with runners in scoring position and two outs on the season.
ROSTER MOVES MADE BY THE TRIBE
Prior to game one on Monday, the Indians placed reliever Joba Chamberlain on the 15-day disabled list with a left intercostal strain and recalled left-hander Ryan Merritt from Triple-A Columbus.
It is the first time on the 25-man roster for the young Indians arm, who is expected to work out of the bullpen after working exclusively as a starter at Columbus this season.
LET’S PLAY TWO
Game two will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. The Indians’ Cody Anderson (0-3, 7.99) will take the mound against Chicago’s Erik Johnson (0-1, 7.20).
Anderson rejoins the Cleveland roster as the 26th man allowed for doubleheaders.
Photo: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast