A mark of a good team is being able to find new ways to win. The Cleveland Indians did that on Saturday night as, after giving up an early four-run lead, Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth to score Carlos Santana with the go-ahead run in a 5-4 Tribe win.
The Indians (57-45) pushed their winning streak to nine straight games with the highly unusual ending to a Corey Kluber start from the southside of Chicago. Coupled with a late loss by Kansas City against the Boston Red Sox, the Indians’ lead over the Royals in the American League Central has grown to three games.
With the score tied at four in the top of the ninth, the Indians were down to their final out of the frame against left-hander Aaron Bummer. Santana kept the inning alive by drawing his fourth walk of the game. Austin Jackson blooped a single into shallow right field to move the go-ahead run into scoring position. Chicago manager Rick Renteria opted to go to his bullpen for Gregory Infante, but his first offering plunked catcher Yan Gomes in the thigh to load the bases. Terry Francona went to his bench, bringing on Guyer to pinch-hit for Erik Gonzalez. The outfielder would deliver in strangely predictable fashion, to a degree, as a 1-2 pitch from Infante caught him in the left arm. The bean ball scored Santana and put the Indians up, 5-4. Bradley Zimmer flied to deep left to end the inning.
Cody Allen had to go through a dangerous part of the White Sox lineup and retired the side in order. Jose Abreu lined to right before Yoan Moncada struck out and Matt Davidson grounded to Francisco Lindor at short with the final out of the night.
Cleveland had led 4-0 in the contest before Chicago was able to even up the score in the middle innings.
In the second against White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez, Santana drew his first walk of the night with one out in the inning. Jackson reached safely on an error by Alen Hanson in left, putting two in scoring position for Gomes. He drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center to give the Indians an early lead.
The Indians poured it on the next inning and missed out on several extra runs. Zimmer and Lindor each singled to start the inning and both stood in scoring position when Michael Brantley came to the plate. He lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Zimmer to make it 2-0. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a single to center to score Lindor, making it a three-run advantage. After a foul out by Ramirez, Santana singled and Jackson scored Encarnacion on a ground rule double to make it 4-0.
Kluber had started the game in his usual dominant fashion. After a leadoff single to start the game by Melky Cabrera, Kluber struck out the next three batters to end the first. He added strikeouts for the first and third outs in the second, but the White Sox would strike through to make it a ball game again in the bottom of the third. With one out, Adam Engel was hit by a pitch. Cabrera reached on an infield single to short before a strikeout of Yolmer Sanchez for the second out. Kluber missed his location to Abreu on his first pitch to the slugger and he made him pay with a three-run shot to left field to cut the score to 4-3.
The Tribe ace struck out two more in the fourth and a pair in the fifth. He added two more to start the home half of the sixth to make it four straight strikeouts for the second time on the night before Hanson doubled to right. Two pitches later, Tim Anderson blooped a double just in front of Jackson near the right field foul line to score the tying run, making it a 4-4 game.
The Indians would load the bases in the seventh, but would not score. Tyler Clippard came on in relief of Gonzalez and his own error allowed Lindor to reach safely to start the inning. Lindor stole second as Brantley struck out. Encarnacion worked a walk before Jose Ramirez popped to short for the second out. Santana walked to load the bases, but the former Sox outfielder Jackson flied to left to end the threat.
Chicago would threaten to break the tie in its half of the seventh, but it was denied by the Cleveland pitching staff. Cabrera doubled to right-center for his fourth hit of the night off of Kluber. A good sacrifice from Sanchez moved him to third. Abreu was intentionally walked and Francona replaced one All-Star with another, calling upon Andrew Miller. He hit Moncada to load the bases and then hit Davidson with a pitch, but after a delay on the field, it was ruled that he swung at the pitch. He would go on to strike out for the fourth time in the ball game and another strikeout of Kevan Smith ended the inning with the score still tied at four.
The Indians had another chance in the eighth, but could not score against Jake Petricka. With two down, Zimmer walked and Lindor slapped a single that dropped just in front of a diving Cabrera. Zimmer advanced to third on the missed catch and Bummer came on in relief, retiring Brantley with a fly to left.
Miller had his own issues again in the eighth but was able to tight rope out of trouble. Hanson singled to start the inning and was sacrificed to second. Engel walked and would go to third as Cabrera grounded into a force at third. The return throw to first by Ramirez to complete the double play was in the dirt, keeping the inning alive. Miller came back and struck out Sanchez to leave the go-ahead run at third.
Kluber worked six and a third in his no-decision. He allowed four runs on nine hits with a walk and 12 strikeouts. It was just the second time since returning from the disabled list that he has not given the Indians a quality start. Gonzalez’s outing was a quality one for the White Sox, despite leaving in line for the loss. He worked six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts before getting off of the hook for the L with the sixth inning tally by his teammates.
Miller earned his fourth win of the season with his inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief. He walked one and allowed one hit while striking out three. Allen’s perfect ninth netted him his 19th save in 20 chances.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-4, 6.29 ERA) will make his first start of the season against the Indians in the series finale on Sunday. It will be his sixth start of the season as he looks to end a losing streak of three straight and four of his first five. Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.59) will take the mound for the Tribe. He made his third straight quality start his last time out, but he has been hit particularly hard by the White Sox this season, giving up eleven runs on 17 hits in just four and one-third innings.
Game time from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET on Sunday.
Photo: AP Photo/Paul Beaty