In a game ruled by early homers and extra base hits, it was a ninth inning grand slam from the White Sox’s Adam “Spanky” Eaton off of Indians closer Cody Allen that proved to be too much to overcome as Chicago held on in the bottom of the inning for a 10-7 win over Cleveland on Wednesday night.
It was a disappointing and confusing game in many ways, as Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was absolutely unhittable at times, and in others gave up costly big hits. His slider was devastatingly sharp, but the White Sox capitalized when the opportunities presented themselves, responding to Tribe scores twice before the final dagger late. Each starter in the Sox lineup got at least one hit on the night. The Indians kept responding while getting big individual contributions and did some damage against an unfamiliar right-hander in Anthony Ranaudo, but in the end, they ran out of time despite bringing the tying run to the plate in their final at bats.
Allen was on in the ninth to defend a two-run lead, but things quickly reached critical mass as five straight would reach after a strikeout to start the save opportunity. Todd Frazier and J.B. Shuck each reached on infield singles before a walk to Tim Anderson loaded the bases. All runners moved up a base on a bloop single to left by catcher Dioner Navarro, cutting the score to 7-6. After getting ahead two strikes on Eaton, Allen hung a breaking ball in the nitro zone and Eaton gave it a ride, as his grand slam to the seats in right made it a blown save for Allen and a 10-7 deficit for his ball club.
The Indians did not roll over in the bottom half, but could not push across a run against Chicago closer David Robertson. Mike Napoli walked and moved to second on a one-out single from Lonnie Chisenhall. The tying run stepped up in Rajai Davis, but he struck out swinging for the second out. Brandon Guyer, who had a huge night in his first start against a right-handed pitcher this season with the Indians, grounded out on a 3-2 pitch to third base to end it.
Robertson earned his 30th save of the season in the win, while Jacob Turner earned his first win of 2016. Allen (2-5, 3.16 ERA) was dealt the loss and his third blown save.
“I didn’t actually think that was a bad pitch to Eaton, he just put a good swing on it,” said Allen after the game. “That guy’s a good player. That’s kind of how the inning went.”
It was a tough loss and a winnable game for the Indians (68-50), who again failed to reach the elusive 20 games above the .500 mark for the season. Their seven-game winning streak against the White Sox (57-62) came to an end, but their lead in the AL Central remained at six full games after Detroit lost in the late innings against Kansas City.
The end of the story on Wednesday was much different than the tale of the earlier portions of the game, although the erratic and undesirable results fit the overall theme of the evening. After Carrasco struck out four of the first six batters that he faced, the Indians gave him a lead in the bottom of the second against Ranaudo, who was recalled prior to the game from Triple-A Charlotte to make the start. With one out, Jose Ramirez doubled to right and scored on a shot down the right field line from Chisenhall into the standing room area in front of The Corner to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
The White Sox evened things right back up two batters into the road half of the third, as ex-Tribesman and Ohio State Buckeye Shuck singled to right. Rookie shortstop Anderson followed by crushing a pitch high off of the left field foul pole for a two-run blast, his seventh, to tie the game at two.
The seesaw battle was now underway as Carlos Santana started the bottom of the third with a deep blast into the final rows of the right field seating area, his 26th, to swing the lead back in Cleveland’s favor. They were not done, however, as after a groundout, Francisco Lindor singled and Napoli walked. Ramirez flied out to right, allowing Lindor to move to third, giving Chisenhall an easy RBI on a single to right to make it a 4-2 Indians advantage.
Carrasco again could not hold the lead as three straight base hits and an error not only put runs on the board, but gave Chicago a lead to work with for the first time all night. Jose Abreu sharply singled to left with one out and moved to third on a double from Justin Morneau. Frazier blasted a double high off of the wall in center to score a pair to tie the game at four. Shuck grounded to Jason Kipnis at second, who was unable to field the ball cleanly. The throw in to the plate held Frazier at third, but catcher Roberto Perez caught Shuck too far between first and second. In the rundown and being mindful of Frazier at third, Santana eventually received the ball and lunged at Shuck, tagging him out but falling to the ground in the process, giving Frazier an easy route to a safe trip to home. Anderson would strike out swinging, but it was now a 5-4 deficit for the Tribe.
Guyer’s big day at the plate continued in the fourth as he singled for the second straight at bat against Ranaudo and moved to second on a groundout. A single to left from Santana moved him within 90 feet of the plate, which paid off as Kipnis lifted a sacrifice fly to left to once again tie the game.
It would be Guyer who would come through again in the following inning against reliever Michael Ynoa. Ramirez walked with one out and moved to third on a two-out single to right from Tyler Naquin. The Indians center fielder picked off second base and Guyer drove them both in with a two-run single to make it a 7-5 lead for Cleveland.
For the first time all night, Carrasco defended his lead, striking out Abreu, Morneau, and Frazier in order in the sixth before getting two quick groundouts in the seventh. A single from Navarro ended his night. Kyle Crockett got a fielder’s choice to end the inning and Bryan Shaw gave up a one-out single to Melky Cabrera in the eighth, but got a big double play ball from Abreu to end any threat.
CARRASCO A BIT OF A ROLLER COASTER
Carrasco took the no-decision on Wednesday behind his sometimes dominant, sometimes frustrating, start against the Sox. He lasted six and two-thirds innings, giving up five runs, four of which were earned. Chicago got eight hits off of the Indians’ 29-year-old right-hander, but drew no walks and struck out eleven times on the night.
RANAUDO MAKES A SPOT START
Ranaudo got the call from Charlotte to fill the void in the Chicago rotation. He did little to slow down the Indians’ high-scoring offense, giving up five runs over just four innings of work. He walked one and allowed eight hits while striking out two.
NAPOLI’S STREAK ENDS
The career high 16-game hitting streak for Napoli came to an end in the loss after the designated hitter went 0-for-3 at the plate with a pair of walks and a strikeout.
He hit .431 (25-for-58) over the course of the streak, hitting five doubles and seven homers while driving in 17 runs. His batting average jumped 26 points over the 16 contests he hit safely in.
CHISENHALL SWEEPS THE LEG
Chisenhall had a big night at the plate, starting with his second inning two-run blast to right, his seventh of the season. His RBI in his next at bat gave him three on the night, the sixth time this season that he has had three RBI in a game.
GUYER NOT JUST A PLATOON GUY
Making the rare start against a right-handed pitcher, Guyer proved that he was more than just a platoon bat for the Indians outfield.
Wanting to take a look at a few different lineup options, manager Terry Francona gave the start in left to Guyer, who was the only member of the current Indians lineup who had faced Ranaudo. Whether that prior experience played a factor or not, Guyer had a huge day at the plate, delivering the go-ahead two-run single in the fifth inning to put the Indians back on top.
He went 3-for-5 on the day with one run scored and a pair of runs batted in. He is now hitting .484 (15-for-31) with the Indians with two doubles, a homer, and ten RBI in 12 August games.
Right-hander Carson Fulmer was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for Ranaudo’s return to the big league roster.
The Indians announced prior to the game that starting pitcher Josh Tomlin had been placed on the Family Medical Emergency list and had returned home to Tyler, Texas, to tend to a family matter. He can remain on the list for three to five days, so it is unknown at this time if he will make his next scheduled start this weekend against Toronto. If he is unable to go, it is possible that pitcher Mike Clevinger, who is still with the club in the bullpen, could make the spot start.
THE RUBBER MATCH
The Indians will activate right-hander Danny Salazar (11-4, 3.38 ERA) from the 15-day disabled list prior to Thursday’s game to make the start against the White Sox. He has been on the shelf since the beginning of the month while dealing with right elbow discomfort. Cleveland will not need to make a roster move with Tomlin currently off the roster. The White Sox will counter with left-hander Carlos Rodon (3-8, 4.32), who has had good success in his short career against the Indians thus far. He is coming off of a quality start in Miami, where he threw six innings of one-run baseball, and will be looking to win consecutive starts for the first time this year.
First pitch of the finale from Cleveland and game eight of this eleven-game homestand is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images