A two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth by Chicago rookie Matt Davidson off of Cleveland’s Bryan Shaw ended the Indians’ nine-game winning streak as the American League Central leaders fell to the White Sox, 3-1, on Sunday.
It was once again a tale of missed opportunities for the Indians, who saw their long stretch of victories come to a close at Guaranteed Rate Field in the finale of the three-game series with the Pale Hose. A well-pitched game on both sides came down to the final frame, when Cleveland’s persona non grata not named Kyrie Irving served up back-to-back hits in the ninth, with the latter giving the White Sox a much needed win during a tumultuous time of upheaval in the club’s clubhouse.
Just prior to the game, the White Sox completed yet another trade in their current fire sale, dealing a seventh player this month, veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, to the Kansas City Royals, not long after he commented publicly about his desire to close out his career in Chicago.
The Indians missed on a big chance in the top of the ninth against reliever Tyler Clippard, who was one of the players acquired in recent trades by the White Sox. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Roberto Perez hit a ground rule double into the left field corner. He was lifted for pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez, but it would prove fruitless as Bradley Zimmer was cut down swinging.
Shaw had worked a quiet eighth, retiring the side in order. He returned for the ninth, with the Indians bullpen heavily used in the ball game as starter Josh Tomlin exited during warmup pitches prior to the bottom of the fifth. After getting Yolmer Sanchez to ground out for the first out, Shaw hung a breaking ball to Jose Abreu that was yanked into left field for a one-out double. With the winning run in scoring position in pinch-runner Alen Hanson, Shaw’s 1-1 pitch to Davidson was driven deep to center, getting a cursory effort from Zimmer before he accepted the fact that the ball was well out of his reach, giving the White Sox a 3-1 walk-off victory.
The Indians dropped to 57-46 with the loss and saw their lead in the AL Central shrink back to two games with a Kansas City Royals win in Boston. The wheeling-and-dealing White Sox improved to 40-62 on the season.
Cleveland had held an early lead against Chicago starter Carlos Rodon, who looked shaky early but settled in for a solid start for the Sox. After stranding a pair in the first and a runner in scoring position in the second, he allowed a solo homer to Francisco Lindor to lead off the third. The next batter, Austin Jackson, reached on a single but would be erased later in the inning on a double play.
Tomlin was firing on all cylinders for the Indians. He struck out the side in the first and added a fourth straight strikeout to start the second. A throwing error by Lindor in the bottom of the third allowed the first base runner, but Tim Anderson was eliminated two pitches later on a double play grounder by Willy Garcia. A second batter reached in the fourth when Abreu was plunked with two outs, but Tomlin struck out his fifth batter of the game in retiring Davidson.
Tomlin came out for warmup pitches in the middle of the fifth, but after a couple of throws, the training staff came out to the mound after an awkward-looking delivery. He would leave the game with a hamstring tweak that had grabbed on the pitch, despite throwing four innings of no-hit baseball.
“On that ground ball, I don’t know if he hit the rubber but it grabbed him a little bit,” said manager Terry Francona of a play the previous inning that seemed to be the culprit for Tomlin’s injury. “When we were watching him warm up, it didn’t look good. … He’ll fight you tooth and nail to stay in a game, part of why we like him so much. But we also can’t let him hurt himself.”
Nick Goody came on and was sharp in the fifth, striking out the side. He struck out each of the first two batters in the sixth before getting into a battle with Leury Garcia, back with the White Sox after being activated from the disabled list prior to the game. After fouling off five pitches, Garcia finally put one in play and it quickly exited the yard for a game-tying solo home run to right.
The Indians would threaten again in the seventh, knocking Rodon out of the game. Giovanny Urshela singled with one out and Zimmer put runners on the corners with his two-out single to center. Rodon was replaced by Jake Petricka and Zimmer would steal second, putting a pair in scoring position, but Lindor could not deliver as he flied to left to end the inning.
It would be the best of the remaining opportunities for the Tribe, as they got a one-out single from Jose Ramirez off of Petricka in the eighth and the two-out double from Perez in the ninth, but could not produce. The team was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the afternoon and stranded eight men. By comparison, the White Sox were just 1-for-2 and stranded three, but the one hit that they had with runners in scoring position was the deciding blow.
Tomlin struck out five and did not walk a batter in his brief four innings. Rodon allowed just one run on six hits with a pair of walks and nine strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings in a no-decision. Clippard earned his second win of the season, while Shaw took his fifth loss.
The Indians will change their Sox and head east to Boston to take on the Red Sox for three straight this week. Mike Clevinger (5-3, 3.20 ERA) is scheduled to start in the series opener from Fenway on Monday against big right-hander Doug Fister (0-5, 7.46).
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images