The Indians had a scare on Saturday night as Trevor Bauer exited a strong start in the seventh inning after being struck by a line drive, but the Cleveland bullpen held on as the Indians finished off a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Bauer left in the bottom of the seventh inning after being struck by a comebacker off of the bat of Jose Abreu on the second pitch of the inning. The shot struck him in his swinging right leg just above the ankle and the deflection was handled for an out, but after 102 pitches and a pronounced limp, Bauer exited the game.
He started the game on a roll, retiring the first seven in order with four strikeouts along the way. But with one down in the third, Yoan Moncada found a four-seamer to his liking and drove it to right field for his 15th homer of the season, giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
For three innings, the Indians managed just one base runner against veteran right-hander James Shields, who allowed only a two-out single to Jason Kipnis in the second. They threatened for the first time in the fourth, when Michael Brantley doubled and moved to third on an error by right fielder Avisail Garcia, but pop outs from Jose Ramirez and Yonder Alonso and a groundout from Melky Cabrera stranded the tying run at third base.
In the fifth, a two-out rally from the bottom of the order tied the game. Shields got Kipnis to fly out and struck out Brandon Guyer for the second out, but Roberto Perez singled to left. With Greg Allen at the plate, Perez stole second off of Omar Narvaez and moved to third on a throwing error. Allen drove a changeup to center to knock in Perez, tying the game at one.
Two big blows from the Tribe in the sixth tipped the scales in favor of Cleveland for good. Brantley caught a 69 MPH pitch and drove it to right to give the Indians a lead, and then Ramirez sped up his bat and powered a 424-foot drive to right for his 34th homer of the season, giving his club a 3-1 lead. Shields would retire six of the next seven batters to give the White Sox seven innings.
Bauer struck out a pair in the sixth and was replaced by Brad Hand in the seventh after being struck. Coming into the game cold from the bullpen, he threw nine straight balls to walk Daniel Palka and Garcia. Ball nine started Narvaez’s at bat, but he recovered to strike him out swinging for the second out. Another strikeout swinging of Tim Anderson left a pair of key base runners stranded.
The Indians missed a chance to add on in the eighth. Brantley and Ramirez each singled and the pair moved into scoring position on an error in center by Ryan LaMarre. Alonso struck out swinging before Cabrera was hit by a Luis Avilan pitch to load the bases. Kipnis flied to left for the second out and former Tribe pitcher Jeanmar Gomez got Guyer to ground to second.
Hand retired the side on 12 pitches in the eighth, throwing eight of the pitches for strikes in a better looking inning. The Indians went down in order in the ninth and the White Sox would bring the tying run to the plate against closer Cody Allen after Yolmer Sanchez singled to start the final frame, but two outs in the air and a swinging strikeout of Garcia ended the ball game.
The Indians moved to 65-51 on the year and climbed back to the even mark on the road at 28-28. The White Sox fell to 42-74 on the year and are 22-37 at home.
Bauer worked six and one-third innings before his leg injury sent him to the clubhouse. He moved to 12-6 on the year with the win after allowing just a run on two hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Shields pitched well against the Indians, but was hit for his 14th loss of the season after a quality seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) with no walks and four strikeouts.
Brantley led the Indians offense with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, coming a triple short of the cycle while driving in one and scoring one. Ramirez was 2-for-4 with a single and a homer, while Kipnis had a pair of hits. The Indians played without DH/1B Edwin Encarnacion, who will be placed on the disabled list on Sunday and replaced by Yandy Diaz on the 25-man roster.
The White Sox mustered just three hits on the night and struck out 12 times. Eight of the nine starters struck out at least once, with only Sanchez left out of the K column.
Prior to the game, Jim Thome was honored by the White Sox, one of his six former clubs. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The two clubs will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday in the rubber match from Guaranteed Rate Field. Right-hander Dylan Covey (4-8, 5.58 ERA) will take the mound for the home Sox, looking to turn around his rough play over the last two months. Carlos Carrasco (13-6, 3.69) will counter for Cleveland, looking to continue his quality play since being activated from the disabled list.
First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jon Durr/Getty Images