Corey Kluber earned his Major League leading eleventh win of the season with seven innings of one-hit baseball and the Indians offense erupted for a dozen runs of support in a 12-0 shutout of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon from downtown Cleveland.
The Indians (40-33) swept the White Sox (24-49) for the second time this season while improving to 8-2 on the year against Chicago. Cleveland has won all six of its home contests with the Pale Hose this year and seven straight dating back to last October 1. The Sox, meanwhile, have dropped seven straight games to fall 16 games in back of the Tribe in the AL Central while hitting a new season-low mark of 25 games below .500.
The Tribe bats scored early and continued to add on all game long, giving Kluber plenty of room to pitch freely in his first outing after going a season-short five innings against the Minnesota Twins last Friday when his streak of 14 straight quality starts to open the year came to an end.
The White Sox sent Reynaldo Lopez to the mound, as the young right-hander looked for revenge after the Indians dealt him the worst start of his career earlier in the year. He would not get it and instead fell in a big hole just a few batters into the afternoon. After the White Sox were retired in order in the first, Francisco Lindor started the home half with a four-pitch walk. Michael Brantley reached safely on another error from Yoan Moncada, putting runners on the corners. Jose Ramirez put the Tribe on the board with a three-pointer deep to right-center, his 22nd of the season.
Kluber allowed his only hit of the game in the second, when Omar Narvaez singled to left with two down. The Indians were retired in order in the home half and the White Sox got their second runner of the game on a leadoff walk by Charlie Tilson, but he would be caught stealing by Yan Gomes. It would be their last base runner until the eighth inning.
The Indians would get a pair on base in the third, but would come away empty handed. Brantley walked and Encarancion singled one out later, but Brantley was caught stealing third. Yonder Alonso struck out swinging to strand Encarnacion at second.
The Indians made up for it in the fourth, as Gomes doubled with one out and came in to score on a two-out base knock by Rajai Davis, giving the Indians a 4-0 lead. Kluber responded by retiring the side in order, giving him eight straight set down after the caught stealing.
The Indians knocked out Lopez in the bottom of the fifth and added another tally to the scoreboard. The White Sox starter walked Ramirez to start the inning. He stole second before a strikeout by Encarnacion. Alonso delivered with a double to right, scoring Ramirez and sending Lopez to the showers. Luis Avilan entered in relief for manager Rick Renteria and got the final two outs around an intentional walk of Gomes.
Kluber retired the side in order again in the sixth, striking out a pair before his offense broke the game wide open with its biggest inning of the month. Bruce Rondon came on for the Sox, but gave up a leadoff single to Davis. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before Lindor walked and picked off second himself. Brantley grounded out to second, but neither runner was able to move up. Ramirez was intentionally walked to set up force plays, but Encarnacion made it a moot point with a two-run double to left to make it a 7-0 game. Alonso worked a walk to load the bases for Jason Kipnis, but Rondon threw his first pitch wild, allowing Ramirez to score to make it an 8-0 game. Rondon, appearing a bit rattled after the second wild pitch of the inning, threw Kipnis a fastball over the plate that he crushed deep to right for a three-run home run, breaking the game wide open at 11-0.
The Indians’ ace came back for one final inning of work in a no-stress seventh, getting a pair of groundouts before ending his afternoon with a swinging strikeout of Daniel Palka. George Kontos made his Indians debut an interesting one, alternating strikeouts and walks in an inning of work.
The Indians added one more run in the bottom of the eighth, as Alonso singled and Gomes doubled with one out before Tyler Naquin grounded home the 12th run of the day. Josh Tomlin pitched the ninth, putting on a pair after Jose Rondon reached on an error to start the inning and Jose Abreu doubled with one out before the displaced Indians pitcher retired Palka and Matt Davidson on fly balls.
KLUBER IN CHARGE
Kluber claimed his stake of the Major League lead in wins with number eleven on the year. He worked seven scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out seven Sox batters in a strong bounce-back start.
The 32-year-old improved to 2-0 against Chicago this season with no runs and four hits allowed in 13 innings with 17 strikeouts and one walk.
LOPEZ LOATHES THE TRIBE
For the second straight time against Cleveland, Lopez was lit up by the Tribe bats, but it would be an error and his four walks that helped run up his pitch count. He lasted just four and one-third innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts on the afternoon.
In two starts against Cleveland and Kluber this season, Lopez is 0-2. He has lasted just seven innings in the pair of games, allowing 12 runs (11 earned) on 14 hits with five walks and eight strikeouts.
RAMIREZ’S MARCH TO WASHINGTON
The fan vote alone may put Ramirez back at the hot corner when the All-Star break hits, as he continues to lead the American League third basemen in the early voting numbers. His numbers alone, however, have proven to be more than deserving. His 22 home runs are already within seven of tying his career-high of 29 set last season. His 1-for-2 day at the plate with a pair of walks and three runs scored boosted his batting average to .291. He has hit safely in eleven of his last 12 games and has drawn at least one walk in each of the last four games, all during a stretch of 28 straight games reaching base safely.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Brantley’s caught stealing in the third inning brought an end to a long stretch of success for the Tribe on the base paths. It ended a franchise-best mark of 23 straight successful stolen base attempts, dating back to May 23.
Lonnie Chisenhall was a late scratch from the starting lineup on Wednesday as he dealt with soreness in both calves. It was a strained right calf that kept Chisenhall on the disabled list for nearly two months earlier this season.
Davis made the rare start against a right-hander and manned center field, while Naquin got the start in right. His eleven-game hitting streak, dating back to May 1 and wrapped around his disabled list stint, came to an end with an 0-for-5 day at the plate with two strikeouts.
A DAY OF REST
The Indians will take Thursday off before kicking off the final leg of their homestand on Friday night when the Detroit Tigers come to town.
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