A two-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth put Cleveland back on top and Corey Kluber gave the Indians six quality innings as the Tribe defeated the Chicago White Sox, 7-3, on a busy night in downtown Cleveland.
With the neighbor Cavaliers hosting Game 4 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena, more than 30,000 packed into Progressive Field as the Indians started their three-game series with the White Sox. Cleveland was able to do something it has struggled with this season as it took game one of a series and did so with a team effort on the diamond.
The Indians took an early lead as the offense generated a run in the first off of White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez. Jason Kipnis sent the second pitch of the home half of the inning into right center for a leadoff double. After a fly out by Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley plated a run with a single to left, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Chicago responded with two in the third to take its first lead of the night. Adam Engel singled to right to start the frame. After a strikeout by Leury Garcia and a stolen base, Melky Cabrera singled to right to score Engel. Jose Abreu drew a walk before Avisail Garcia singled to shallow center. Bradley Zimmer sent a low liner back towards the plate that skipped into the glove of catcher Yan Gomes, who applied the tag in time to nail Cabrera for the second out. Todd Frazier singled back to center and Zimmer again had a chance to throw out a runner but his throw was wide as Chicago took a 2-1 lead.
Aftter retiring five in a row, Gonzalez gave up an infield single to second by Encarnacion with one out in the fourth. A liner to right by Jose Ramirez tallied the second out before a double off of the wall in left by Lonnie Chisenhall put two in scoring position with two down. Gomes walked to load the bases and Zimmer fouled off several pitches before drawing a walk of his own to force in Encarnacion to tie the game at two. With the bags still loaded, Kipnis grounded the next pitch to first to end the threat.
The White Sox moved back in front in the fifth against Kluber after a leadoff double from L. Garcia. Cabrera moved him to third on a grounder back to the mound and Abreu lifted a sacrifice fly to center to drive in the go-ahead run as the Sox claimed a 3-2 lead.
That lead would be shorter than their first as the Sox got into two-out trouble in the bottom of the fifth. Carlos Santana walked on four straight and after Encarnacion took a strike, he drilled a long drive into the trees in center for a clutch two-out, two-run home run to give Cleveland a 4-3 lead.
The Indians would not look back. Kluber worked around a two-out single by Tim Anderson in the sixth before handing the game to the bullpen. Andrew Miller took over in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single to Engel before a sacrifice and a strikeout put two outs on the board. Abreu was hit by a pitch and left the game unable to put weight on his left leg, but A. Garcia struck out swinging to leave the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Miller came back out in the eighth, striking out the first two hitters before Anderson popped out to second to end the inning.
Cleveland put up some big insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to give the bullpen some breathing room. Against reliever Jake Petricka, Encarnacion singled for his third hit of the night. Ramirez singled to right, moving pinch-runner Daniel Robertson into scoring position. Chisenhall delivered his second double of the game, scoring the pinch-runner and moving Ramirez to third. He too would score along with Chisenhall as Gomes singled to left to make it a 7-3 game.
In a non-save situation in the ninth, Cody Allen entered and got two fly outs in the air before a single to right by L. Garcia. Cabrera would ground out to Allen between the mound and first base and got the veteran White Sox outfielder in a close play at first base that would be briefly reviewed before the out was confirmed, giving the Indians their 30th win of the season.
Kluber (5-2) earned his fifth win of the season to push the Indians back to two games over the .500 mark at 30-28. The right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and eight strikeouts on the night.
Gonzalez (4-7) dropped another decision as the 33-year-old righty has now lost seven of his last eight outings. He was unable to finish the fifth inning, leaving after four and two-thirds innings with four runs allowed on six hits, four batters walked, and just two strikeouts. Petricka, working in his first outing since being activated from the disabled list and just his second of the season, was charged with three runs on four hits in an inning of work.
Encarnacion, back in the lineup after missing the last two interleague games with hip discomfort, was 3-for-4 at the plate with two singles, a homer, two runs scored, and two runs batted in before leaving for a pinch-runner in the eighth. Chisenhall was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run batted in, and Ramirez had a single and double in four trips. Gomes reached base safely in three of his four trips, providing two walks and a single on the night.
Game two between the Indians and White Sox is scheduled for a slightly later than normal 7:15 PM ET start to accommodate a national Fox telecast.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (3-7, 5.54 ERA) will be the first pitcher to the mound in the ball game as he looks to keep the Tribe in the win column against young left-hander David Holmberg (0-0, 2.50). Tomlin dropped his fourth game in his last five outings, but he gave the Indians seven and one-third innings of work on the mound while allowing just three runs in the quality start loss. It will be his second appearance against Chicago this season, with the first being an ugly five-out start when he allowed seven runs on eight hits in early April. Holmberg has yet to face the Indians in his career. It will be his eleventh appearance of the season since joining the White Sox and his third straight start. His first two starts have both been shorter in nature, as he fired 72 pitches in four innings against Boston on May 29 and 74 over three and two-thirds innings in Detroit on June 4.
Photo: AP Photo/Phil Long