Cleveland starter Corey Kluber was unable to finish the fourth inning and was tagged for six runs (four earned) as the Indians fell on Wednesday to the Chicago White Sox by an 8-3 final.
It was one of those rare off days for the Tribe right-hander, who was hit often and issued an uncharacteristic three walks in just three and one-third innings of work in Cleveland’s second home game of the season. He was paced with little support from the scuffling Indians offense, which got just two hits and an unearned run off of White Sox starter Carlos Rodon in a quality six innings on the mound.
The White Sox plated three runs in the first inning as the Indians returned a favor from Chicago just two days earlier. Leury Garcia started the game with a first-pitch single to center. After he stole second, he was joined on the bases on a five-pitch walk by Yoan Moncada. Garcia was eliminated after getting in a rundown on a pitch in the dirt, with Moncada moving into scoring position. Jose Abreu reached on an error at short by Eric Stamets, putting runners on the corners, and old friend Yonder Alonso singled to right-center to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Eloy Jimenez loaded the bases with a single of his own and the second run of the inning crossed as Kluber walked Daniel Palka to force in a run. Jose Rondon grounded into a fielder’s choice force at second to score Alonso before the eighth man to bat, James McCann, grounded out to second.
The Indians took advantage of one of three White Sox errors on the day in the bottom of the frame. Rodon struck out leadoff man Leonys Martin, but Jose Ramirez reached on a throwing error at third by Moncada. Jordan Luplow got his first hit with the Indians to put runners on the corners and Carlos Santana delivered with an RBI-single to right to make it a 3-1 game. The two runners on the bases were stranded in scoring position, however, as Hanley Ramirez and Greg Allen struck out swinging.
Chicago added another run in the second in a weird inning for Kluber. After striking out Yolmer Sanchez, Garcia singled, moved to second on another walk by Moncada, and scored on a single to left by Abreu. Kluber recovered to strike out Alonso and Jimenez swinging to leave it a 4-1 game.
The Indians wasted a leadoff walk by Roberto Perez to start the second and saw their offense run dry as Rodon retired the next 12 batters in order over the following four innings.
Kluber set down the side in order in the third, but it was right back into trouble in the fourth as the White Sox added on. With one out, Garcia reached for the third straight at bat with an infield single. He moved to third on a double by Moncada and both scored on a double by Abreu to make it 6-1. Tyler Olson came on in relief of the Tribe’s ace and got out of the inning.
Rodon finally allowed another runner in the bottom of the sixth, as J. Ramirez reached second on a double error as Sanchez missed a routine pop and his throw to Rondon at second glanced off of his glove. J. Ramirez moved to third two outs later, but was stranded there as H. Ramirez grounded to third for the final out of Rodon’s afternoon.
Neil Ramirez took over for Dan Otero and the Indians in the eighth. After allowing a single to short to Garcia for his fourth hit of the day, Moncada devoured an 0-2 fastball up and over the plate, sending the ball 438 feet deep to right to expand Chicago’s lead to 8-1.
The Indians were retired in order for the fifth time on the day in the bottom of the eighth, but the lineup mustered some garbage time runs in the ninth off of Nate Jones. After Luplow grounded out, Santana reached with a single to right and trotted home on a bullet to center from H. Ramirez. His second home run of the season, with an exit velocity of 113.2 MPH, made it an 8-3 game (the shot was the second time that the Indians have had a homer clocked at 113 MPH or higher since Statcast began measuring the stat in 2015, with both coming from the Tribe’s new designated hitter).
Jones struck out two of the next three around a two-out single from Tyler Naquin to close the door on the Tribe.
Kluber (0-2, 5.23 ERA) dropped his second straight decision to open the season. Unlike his first start against Minnesota, when he held the Twins in check for much of the day, he had little going his way as he allowed eight hits and three walks while striking out four in just three and one-third innings.
“First pitch of the game is hit for a base hit and he’s pitching out of the stretch,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona after the game. “He never found a comfort zone. He scattered a lot of his fastballs, put him in some tough counts. You could tell he was fighting it.”
The bases loaded walk of Palka in the first inning was the first of Kluber’s big league career in the 55th plate appearance him with ducks on the pond. The loss ended a nine-game winning streak for him against Chicago; he last lost to the White Sox in 2015.
Rodon (1-1, 1.59) earned his first win of the season with a solid effort. He struck out nine Indians hitters on the day and allowed an unearned run on two hits with one walk.
The top of the White Sox lineup did the damage on Wednesday, as the first three hitters in the batting order combined to go 8-for-13 with two walks, five RBI, and seven runs scored. Garcia was 4-for-5 with three of those runs scored. Moncada had two hits and two walks, scored three times, and drove in a pair. Abreu went 2-for-5 with three runs batted in and a run scored.
Seven of nine Indians starters struck out (with only J. Ramirez and Santana avoiding the K). Six of those players struck out twice on the day, with only Perez being sat down once. The rookie Stamets is still looking for his first hit and is now 0-for-12 on the year with seven strikeouts. Perez is 0-for-11 with five strikeouts. Allen is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts, but has driven in a pair of runs for the club on the year.
Before the game, the Indians announced a two-year contract extension with Francona that will keep him with the club through the 2022 season. The team has also released reliever Ben Taylor, who was designated for assignment on March 28.
Chicago was without starting shortstop Tim Anderson for the second game following the birth of his daughter. The team recalled right-hander Jose Ruiz from Triple-A Charlotte after placing Anderson on the paternity list.
The White Sox announced disappointing news for their fans early in the game, as their home opener on Thursday has already been postponed due to inclement weather. The team will try to open up Guaranteed Rate Field again on Friday when they host the Seattle Mariners.
The Indians will stay put in Cleveland for the next four days, hosting the visiting Toronto Blue Jays for their only trip to this side of Lake Erie in 2019. Trevor Bauer (0-0, 1.29) will get the starting nod in the series opener against the Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez (1-0, 0.00).
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