Carlos Carrasco’s return to a Cleveland mound was spoiled by the Chicago White Sox as they popped a pair of home runs off of the right-hander in a four-run eighth inning to stun the Indians in a 6-5 final on Tuesday night.
The unfortunate turn of events spoiled a strong start from Mike Clevinger, who left after seven innings of work in line to win his tenth consecutive decision for the Tribe. It was a tightly pitched game on both sides for much of the night, with the Indians finally striking through in the bottom of the seventh against White Sox starter Dylan Cease before Chicago responded in a big way against Carrasco the next half inning.
The White Sox tied the game at two in the top of the seventh against Clevinger when Eloy Jimenez homered to center to start the inning, but the Indians broke that tie after the stretch as Cease came out for a seventh inning of work. After striking out his tenth and eleventh batters of the night to open the inning, Cease lost the strike zone and walked Franmil Reyes on five pitches and Mike Freeman on six to put a pair on. Former Tribe reliever Evan Marshall took over for manager Rick Renteria and missed on his first two offerings to Roberto Perez before the dinged up Indians catcher blasted a two-out, three-run home run into the bleachers to give the Indians a 5-2 lead.
Carrasco took over for his second relief appearance since being activated from the 60-day injured list and was making his return to the playing surface at Progressive Field for the first time as an active player since it was announced that he was battling leukemia. Facing the top of the order, he gave up a pair of singles to Leury Garcia and Tim Anderson before striking out Jose Abreu on three straight pitches and coming back from 3-1 against Yoan Moncada to strike him out swinging for the second out. A poorly placed slider over the heart of the plate to All-Star James McCann was belted deep to left for a game-tying three-run home run, and Jimenez homered for the second straight at bat, blooping a hanging slider just over the wall the opposite way in right as the White Sox took their first lead of the game with six outs remaining on their back-to-back jacks.
Aaron Bummer struck out three in the eighth, allowing just an infield single to short by Greg Allen with one down. After James Hoyt worked around a one-out triple in the ninth, Alex Colome worked a perfect bottom half, striking out pinch-hitter Oscar Mercado and getting Reyes to fly to right before freezing Freeman looking for the final out of the game.
The Indians lost for the fourth time in five games and fell to 80-59. They now trail the Minnesota Twins by six and a half games in the American League Central as all winds are out of the Tribe’s sails in the divisional race. The Tampa Bay Rays remain atop the AL Wild Card picture, holding a one-game lead, while the Indians trail the Oakland A’s by one-thousandth of a point for the second wild card berth.
Chicago (61-77) is now 8-6 against Cleveland this season.
The Tribe took an early lead against Cease after Clevinger struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 first. Francisco Lindor took a first pitch strike before putting a four-seamer into the jet stream and out to right for his 27th homer of the year, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.
A walk in the second proved costly for Clevinger, as he put on Moncada to open the inning. McCann fouled out before Jimenez’s big day at the plate began with a double to center that scored Moncada to knot the game at one.
Cease was sharp around the leadoff homer by Lindor, the 18th such homer of his young career. Cease struck out a pair in the first, two more in the second, and the side in the third. Clevinger was similarly effective, getting a pair of strikeouts in the first and third innings and three in the fourth after walking Moncada again to start an inning.
Cease had retired ten in a row after Yasiel Puig’s two-out single in the first when the Indians finally recorded another hit. Reyes sent the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth deep to center for a leadoff double. Freeman struck out looking, but Perez won a long battle with the White Sox’s rookie right-hander, sending the eighth pitch of his at bat into right field for an RBI-single, breaking the tie and giving the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Clevinger worked around a two-out walk of Moncada, his third of the game, before Jimenez evened things up with a solo shot 442 feet to center on the fourth pitch of the seventh inning. Clevinger got the final three men that he faced, but the White Sox had tied the game at two.
Clevinger worked seven full innings and left in line for the win. He allowed two runs on just two hits, but four walks came back to bite him some. He struck out nine in the no-decision. Carrasco was charged with four runs on four hits with a pair of strikeouts. He suffered the blown save and the loss.
“I made a mistake,” Carrasco said after the game. “The two homers…it was a hanging slider. That’s what happened. That’s what cost us the game right there.”
“I thought when he got Moncada that he was okay,” Tribe skipper Terry Francona said. “He hung a breaking ball to a guy who knows what to do with it.”
The rookie Cease scattered four runs on four hits over six and two-thirds, walking two and striking out a career-high eleven. Bummer and Colume struck out five of the seven batters that they faced, with Bummer earning his 19th hold of the season and Colome his 26th save.
Perez powered the Indians offense after the leadoff homer by Lindor. He went 2-for-3 with four RBI to give him 54 on the year. The Tribe bats had little opportunity against Cease and the White Sox bullpen to get anything going, as they had just three at bats with runners in scoring position. Those opportunities led to both of Perez’s RBI knocks.
Jimenez went 3-for-4 for the White Sox, driving in three runs with his 23rd and 24th homers of the campaign. He now has 57 RBI on the season. Moncada drew three walks out of the cleanup spot and scored a run.
The Indians will look to get back into the win column in game three of their brief four-game homestand against the White Sox in a 7:10 PM ET start on Wednesday night. Right-hander Shane Bieber (12-7, 3.27 ERA) will try again for his 13th win after losing each of his last three decisions. Fellow righty Ivan Nova (9-11, 4.48) will make his fourth start of the season against Cleveland; he has allowed just five earned runs over 21 innings against the Indians this season.
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