Sometimes, the worst thing for a team is to face a pitcher after an abysmal start. That was the case for the Cleveland Indians on Thursday afternoon as Chicago’s Reynaldo Lopez bounced back from a career-worst performance with a complete game one-hitter in a 7-1 White Sox win over the Tribe.
After holding on by the skin of their teeth on Wednesday, momentum failed to carry over for the Indians on Thursday as Lopez shut down the Tribe for nine innings to win his ninth game of the season. Coming off of a two-thirds of an inning performance against the Atlanta Braves in his last start on August 31, Lopez looked like a completely different pitcher as he allowed just one run on one hit with three walks and eleven strikeouts while facing just four batters over the minimum. His offense gave him a pair of early runs in the second, then broke the game open for good in a three-run sixth against Cleveland starter Zach Plesac.
One of the few batters to reach against Lopez on the afternoon was Francisco Lindor, who started the home at bats in the bottom of the first with a walk. He was sacrificed to second, but moved no further as Carlos Santana struck out and Franmil Reyes popped out to short.
The White Sox took the lead in the second. Yoan Moncada opened things with the White Sox’s first hit of the game, a single to center. Welington Castillo made it a 2-0 game as he drove a 2-2 pitch over the 19-foot wall in left.
The Indians’ only hit of the day pushed across the club’s lone run on the afternoon. With two men down, Jake Bauers worked a five-pitch walk. Kevin Plawecki doubled to right, scoring Bauers on the two-bagger to cut the deficit to one.
Plesac allowed a two-out single to Tim Anderson in the third, but got out of the inning. In the fourth, three men reached as Moncada started the inning with a double. Zack Collins walked with one out before Danny Mendick flied to right. With the inning hanging in the balance, Yolmer Sanchez came through with an RBI-single to center, scoring Moncada and moving Collins to third. With runners on the corners and a 3-1 lead, Adam Engel struck out looking to strand a pair.
The last Indians batter to reach against Lopez was Mike Freeman with two outs in the fourth. He walked, but Bauers followed with a swinging strikeout. Lopez retired the final 16 men that he faced.
The first three reached off of Plesac to start the sixth, ending his outing. Castillo doubled for his second extra base hit of the afternoon. Collins walked and Mendick reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Hunter Wood came on in relief but provided little of it, walking Sanchez on five fastballs to force home the fourth run of the day. Three pitches later, Engel made it a 6-1 game with a two-run single. Wood bounced back to strike out the next three batters, but the damage was done.
Castillo notched his third extra base hit of the game in the seventh against Dan Otero, but he was thrown out at the plate on a two-out single to center by Mendick.
Chicago added one more insurance run in the top of the ninth against Phil Maton. Anderson doubled and Eloy Jimenez was hit by a pitch. The pair moved up on a passed ball by catcher Eric Haase. Moncada lined to short for the first out and Castillo grounded to short, but he got his third RBI of the game as Anderson scored on the play. Collins struck out looking.
In a six-run hole and set down 13 straight times, the Tribe tried and failed to get anything going in the bottom of the ninth as Lopez went for the complete game. He got Moncada to fly to center and Santana to pop to third. Reyes struck out looking for his third K of the game to end it.
Chicago moved to 62-78 on the season and is 9-7 against Cleveland this season. The Indians, desperate for every win down the stretch, fell to 81-60 with the defeat. They will be rooting for the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays later in the day in their respective matchups against the Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins, and Tampa Bay Rays, the three teams standing in Cleveland’s way of a playoff berth this season.
Plesac dropped to 7-6 on the season with another rough outing. He worked five-plus innings, allowing six runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Wood allowed the final three runs to cross that were charged to Plesac while giving up a hit and a walk and striking out three in the sixth. Otero gave up two hits in two innings of work, while Maton gave up an unearned run.
While the Indians mustered just one hit, seven different White Sox hitters recorded at least one, with four putting up multi-hit games. Castillo led the way with two doubles and his ninth homer of the season while driving in three runs. Sanchez and Engel each plated two, while Anderson, Moncada, and Mendick each had a pair of hits on the afternoon.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria will miss some time as he is scheduled to undergo right rotator cuff surgery in Chicago on Friday.
With getaway day complete, the Indians will pack their bags and head to Minnesota to open a three-game weekend set against the Twins. Game one of the most significant series this season to date for the Tribe will pit Minnesota right-hander Michael Pineda (11-5, 4.11 ERA) against Cleveland’s Adam Plutko (6-4, 4.53) from Target Field on Friday.
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