The Cleveland Indians wrapped up a productive season against both Chicago teams with eight shutout innings on Wednesday in a 10-2 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Allowing just a pair of runs in the ninth inning, the Indians successfully stomped the White Sox in their home finale to finish the season with a 14-5 record against their young and rebuilding divisional rival. Six dominant shutout innings from Shane Bieber took the White Sox right out of the game, and four straight innings of scoring in the middle of the game from the Tribe offense buried Chicago in a hole it could not come out of.
The Indians offense was productive all throughout, as eight of the nine starters in the lineup registered hits. The only one who did not – Josh Donaldson – drew four walks, and his replacement late in the game, Yandy Diaz, got a hit in his only plate appearance to give Cleveland hits from all nine spots in the batting order.
In a bullpen game for the White Sox, the Indians jumped on the scoreboard first with the first batter of the game. Facing Jace Fry, Francisco Lindor fell behind on the first two pitches of the game, but blasted a cutter 423 feet to left to put the Indians up, 1-0, on his MLB-leading and Indians-record ninth leadoff homer of the year. The Indians added two more base runners in the inning and did so again in the second, but were unable to score.
In the third, Edwin Encarnacion started a big night at the plate after Jose Ramirez doubled off of Aaron Bummer to start the frame. Jumping on a 0-1 pitch, Encarnacion singled deep the opposite way for an RBI-single, making it a 2-0 game.
After leaving two runners on in that third inning, Cleveland broke the game wide open in the fourth. Ryan Burr retired the first two batters of the inning before uncorking eight straight balls to Michael Brantley and Ramirez to issue a pair of free passes. Encarnacion took two straight balls before fouling off a four-seamer. He didn’t miss the next one, driving a three-run homer to left-center to put the Indians up, 5-0.
The Tribe greeted Burr rudely again to start the fifth, chasing him from the game after Melky Cabrera doubled and moved to third on a single by Jason Kipnis. Former Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez got the call from the bullpen, but allowed a single to right-center to catcher Roberto Perez, pushing across Cabrera with the sixth run of the game. Lindor loaded the bases with a single to right and a sacrifice fly from Brantley made it 7-0 Cleveland. Only a double play liner to first by Ramirez stopped the rally.
Cleveland pushed across three more runs in the top of the sixth, again against Gomez. Donaldson walked with one out and moved to third on a double by Yonder Alonso. Cabrera flied out for the second out, but Kipnis delivered a two-run double to right to give the Indians a nine-run edge. A ground rule double to right-center by Perez scored Kipnis to put the Tribe on top, 10-0.
Bieber’s outing was one of his best of the season. He retired the side in the order in the first with a strikeout and added two more in a perfect second. He made it four straight strikeouts by retiring the first two batters of the bottom of the third on swinging strikes before Adam Engel reached base on a walk. Yolmer Sanchez flied out to end the inning. The rookie starter made it seven strikeouts through the first four innings when he got the final two men in the fourth after a one-out walk by Avisail Garcia.
The White Sox got a lucky first hit in the fifth with two down in the frame. Yoan Moncada chopped a 2-2 pitch off of the plate back towards the mound. Bieber fielded the high hopper, but he had no chance to get Moncada at first. He struck out Engel to end the inning, giving him at least one strikeout through each of the first five innings.
The Indians left runners on base in each of the final three innings, including a bases loaded, one-out situation in the eighth. The bullpen handled things the rest of the way for Bieber, as Cody Allen retired the side in order in the seventh and Brad Hand struck out a pair in the eighth after a leadoff single. Oliver Perez had an unusual tough outing, loading the bases in the process. He hit Cordell with a pitch before Jose Rondon, pinch-hitting for Palka, singled to left. Matt Davidson struck out swinging for the first out, but Kevan Smith singled to center to end the shutout. Tim Anderson walked to load the bases, but Moncada struck out swinging for the second out. Manager Terry Francona retrieved Perez for Adam Cimber, who gave up an RBI-single to Engel to make it a 10-2 game, but he recovered by retiring the eighth man to bat, Sanchez, on a fly to Greg Allen in center.
The Indians moved to 89-69 on the season and moved one win away from guaranteeing at least a .500 road record for the year. The White Sox fell to 62-96 on the season and just 30-51 at home.
Bieber’s gem moved him to 11-5 on the season. He walked two and allowed two hits on the day while striking out nine Sox hitters in his final start of the year. He threw 59 of 90 pitches for strikes and exited to allow the bullpen to get in some work in a blowout. The win kept his road record (7-0) perfect in his rookie season. The 23-year-old now owns the most road wins without a loss in a season by an Indians pitcher.
“For a kid that’s got two-thirds of a year in the major leagues, he carries himself really well, competes, tries to get better,” said Francona after the game. “We feel like one way or another, he’ll help us win.
Each of the first four White Sox relievers to take the mound in a bullpen game allowed at least one run, with Burr taking the bulk of the damage. He worked an inning and allowed three hits, three walks, and five runs.
The Indians bats had opportunities all night long with runners in scoring position. The team went 7-for-22, with Kipnis, Perez, and Encarnacion each recording two hits. Encarnacion tallied three hits and drove in four with his 32nd homer of the season. His 105 RBI are tied with Ramirez for the most on the team.
With their home slate completed, the White Sox will hit the road for the Twin Cities to play four in Minnesota over the weekend. The Indians will head to Kansas City, where they will start a four-game set with the Royals on Thursday night with Josh Tomlin the scheduled starter.
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