Needing to win every game down the home stretch to improve its playoff odds, Cleveland was dealt a defeat as former Indians hurler Ross Detwiler scattered three runs on five hits over five innings while the Tribe bullpen let the game get out of hand late in an 8-3 loss.
The White Sox claimed the season series over the Indians, winning for the tenth time in 18 matchups this year. That could prove to be the difference for the Tribe, which fared well overall against the other three teams in the American League Central, going 18-1 against Detroit, 12-7 against Kansas City, and 10-9 against first place Minnesota. The White Sox used some early offense, capitalizing on a defensive miscue by the Tribe, and put the game away late with a key three-run long ball.
The loss for the Indians (93-65), coupled with a win by Minnesota in Detroit, officially eliminated the Tribe in the American League Central race, with the Twins taking the crown from Cleveland after a three-year run atop the division. Tampa was victorious prior to Cleveland’s loss and now leads the Indians by a game and a half for the second AL Wild Card spot.
With their most consistent starter this season on the mound in Shane Bieber, the Indians fell in an early hole after three fly ball outs against Detwiler in the first. Leury Garcia fouled off the first pitch of the home half before driving Bieber’s second offering over the wall in left for a leadoff home run, extending his hitting streak to eight straight and giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Back-to-back infield singles by Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu kept the inning moving and a grounder to first by Yoan Moncada moved both base runners up 90 feet. Zack Collins grounded to Carlos Santana at first, but Santana’s throw home sailed over the head of catcher Roberto Perez, allowing Anderson to score with ease and Abreu to follow suit on the errant throw as Chicago staked a 3-0 lead. Collins moved to second on the error and to third on a fly ball out by Yolmer Sanchez before Bieber got Matt Skole to fly to center to end a disastrous first.
Detwiler made it six straight retired before the Indians got on base in the third. Franmil Reyes opened things up with a leadoff single to left. He moved to second on a groundout by Perez and scored on a single to center by Mike Freeman, making it a 3-1 game. With the tying run at the plate, Francisco Lindor struck out looking before Oscar Mercado flied to right to strand the runner at first.
The Sox added what proved to be the deciding run in the bottom of the third. Anderson and Abreu began the frame with consecutive singles again. Bieber bounced back and struck out Moncada and Collins, but Sanchez delivered a single to right to score Anderson from second. Skole left Abreu 90 feet from home, becoming Bieber’s third strikeout victim of the inning, but the damage was done with Chicago on top, 4-1.
Detwiler retired the Tribe in order again in the fourth before the White Sox added another insurance run. Daniel Palka singled with one out before Bieber’s second strikeout of the inning. Anderson singled for the third straight trip and Abreu did the same, with the latter scoring Palka ahead of the throw from Mercado in center to give the White Sox a 5-1 edge.
The Chicago southpaw Detwiler came back out for the fifth, looking to protect his four-run lead, but the Indians put together a rally with three straight hits. Jose Ramirez, one night after returning to the lineup with a two-homer, seven-RBI game, worked the count from 0-2 to 3-2 before blasting another homer over the wall in left, making it a 5-2 game. Reyes singled to center and moved to third on a single to left by Perez. Freeman got a run across, but did not get an RBI on the play as he grounded into an inning-killing double play. With the bases cleared and the score now 5-3, Lindor flied softly to center for the final out.
Bieber had his first 1-2-3 inning of the night in the fifth and he got the first two in the sixth before walking Ryan Cordell, who had taken over for an injured Garcia. Rather than let Bieber face Anderson and Abreu, who were both 3-for-3 against him through the first five innings, manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen for the submariner Adam Cimber. Anderson singled to right to put runners on the corners on his fourth hit of the game, but Abreu lined to center to leave a pair.
A second former Indians pitcher, reliever Evan Marshall, took over for Detwiler in the sixth and walked one in an otherwise quiet inning. But two more walks in the seventh – a leadoff free pass to Ramirez and a second to Perez after Reyes struck out – put the tying runs on base and led manager Rick Renteria to go back to his bullpen for Aaron Bummer. He came through in the clutch, striking out pinch-hitter Greg Allen and Lindor swinging in a costly missed opportunity for the Tribe.
The close contest became a little more lopsided after the stretch as the White Sox broke the game open against the Indians bullpen. Oliver Perez came on in relief but gave up a pair of hits – a leadoff double by Moncada and a one-out single by Sanchez – that put runners on first and third. Tyler Clippard took over for O. Perez and got ahead of Welington Castillo on two fastballs, but after two pitches missed, he left a four-seamer up and over the plate and the White Sox catcher belted it to left-center for the game-changing three-run blast, giving Chicago an 8-3 lead. Clippard got Adam Engel to line to left before walking Palka, bringing Francona back out for rookie James Karinchak, who got Cordell to pop to short.
Kelvin Herrera struck out the side swinging in the eighth and Karinchak worked a perfect home half to keep the deficit at five. Down to their final three outs, the Indians mounted a rally attempt and forced three pitchers to work in the inning, but could not get anything across. Herrera struck out Jordan Luplow swinging for his fourth straight strikeout before Renteria went back to his bullpen for Jace Fry. He got Ramirez to ground to second for the second out before Reyes singled to center and moved to second on a wild pitch. Fry missed on four straight to R. Perez to put two on and pinch-hitter Yu Chang worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases. It was back to the ‘pen one final time for Renteria, who turned to his closer Alex Colome. He struck out Lindor on a cutter down and out of the zone to earn a five-pitch save while sending the Indians to a devastating defeat.
Bieber dropped to 15-8 on the year with a mixed outing on the mound to close out his regular season work as a starter. He went five and two-thirds innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on ten hits with a walk and seven strikeouts on 98 pitches. The bullpen was charged with three more runs, including two to Perez that trotted home on the homer allowed by Clippard.
Detwiler contained the Tribe to the best of his ability after a rough start against them earlier this month. He allowed three runs on five hits with a strikeout in five innings of work to win for the third time this season. The bullpen behind him allowed just one hit over the final four innings, but did issue five free passes. Marshall and Bummer each took home holds, while Colome earned save number 30.
Anderson had four singles in five trips for the White Sox to push his league-leading average to .339. He scored twice. Abreu had three hits, scored once, and drove one in. Sanchez and Palka each had a pair of hits, while Castillo’s three-run blast was his eleventh of the year.
Three of the Tribe’s six hits on the night came from Reyes, who scored two of the team’s three runs. Perez had a single and drew two walks. Ramirez’s third homer in the last two games gave him 23 on the year and 83 RBI.
The top five hitters in the Indians lineup combined to go 0-for-20 with a walk and eight strikeouts. Lindor was cut down three times on strikes.
The rubber match of the final series between the Indians and White Sox is scheduled for an 8:10 PM ET first pitch on Thursday night. Chicago will call on rookie right-hander Dylan Cease (4-7, 5.79 ERA). Cleveland will turn to fellow rookie righty Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.82).
Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images