After winning back-to-back games in walk-off fashion, the Cleveland Indians were on the losing end in the same way as Daniel Palka led off the bottom of the ninth with an opposite field solo home run to left off of Neil Ramirez to give the Chicago White Sox a 1-0 victory.
The Indians’ (64-51) three-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night in the opener from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago as the White Sox (42-73) edged out just their third win in eleven tries against the Tribe with one swing from Palka. The two teams combined for ten hits on the night, but the final one was the biggest.
Ramirez entered for manager Terry Francona in the bottom of the eighth of the scoreless game as the third Tribe pitcher of the night with two outs in the inning and retired Jose Abreu on a fly to center to strand a runner at first.
The Indians had chances throughout the night against the White Sox pitching staff and forced Rick Renteria to use three arms in the top of the ninth. Xavier Cedeno walked Melky Cabrera to start the inning. Pinch-runner Greg Allen was forced at second as Juan Minaya got a grounder to third from Brandon Guyer. The third pitcher of the frame, Jace Fry, worked out of it after a single by Yonder Alonso put two on. Yan Gomes struck out swinging and Jason Kipnis popped out to third.
Ramirez returned to the mound to face the left-handed hitting Palka, who had struck out three times on the night against Tribe starter Shane Bieber. He made up for it with one swing, slapping the fourth pitch, high and out of the zone, to left field and over the wall for the game winner.
The Indians had opportunities early against left-hander Carlos Rodon, but could not come through. Francisco Lindor drew a leadoff walk to start the ball game and stole second base with two outs. Edwin Encarnacion drew his own walk and the pair pulled off a double steal, but Guyer struck out swinging to leave two on base.
Bieber had to navigate some rough waters early in the night. Abreu singled with two outs in the first, but the DH Palka struck out for the first of three straight times. In the second, Tim Anderson doubled with two outs and the slumping Yoan Moncada walked, but Ryan LaMarre grounded out to end the inning.
The Indians wasted a one-out double by Lindor in the third, a two-out single by Rajai Davis in the fifth, another one-out double from Jose Ramirez in the sixth, and a leadoff single from Alonso in the seventh off of Rodon. Brantley reached in the eighth with two down on catcher’s interference, but Ramirez flied out in Rodon’s final inning of work.
Bieber pitched a perfect third and allowed just a two-out walk by Omar Narvaez in the fourth. Moncada started the fifth with a double, but Bieber struck out the next two and got a fly to right. He retired the side in order in the sixth and started the seventh by retiring the first two hitters before Francona called upon Oliver Perez, who struck out Moncada looking.
Neither starter factored in the decision. Rodon worked eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out five. Bieber lasted six and two-thirds, giving up three hits and walking a pair while striking out eight.
Encarnacion left the game after making just one trip to the plate after appearing to hurt himself swinging during his first at bat of the game. He would draw a walk and steal second, but was replaced at DH by Cabrera for his next trip. He left the game with what was described as left arm discomfort.
The middle game of the three-game set is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET start on Saturday night. Right-hander James Shields (4-13, 4.50 ERA) will get the starting nod for the White Sox, looking for his first win since July 13. Trevor Bauer (11-6, 2.25) will aim for his fourth win in five tries since the All-Star break.
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