Civale Provides Quality Start, Bullpen Holds On Late; Indians 4, White Sox 3
Bob Toth | On 28, Jul 2020
Francisco Lindor paced the Indians to an early lead in support of a quality start from Aaron Civale, and the Cleveland bullpen worked out of several jams to secure a 4-3 win in game one of Tuesday’s twinbill from Progressive Field.
Civale, beginning the season on the Indians roster for the first time in his career, worked around a one-out infield single by Yoan Moncada, striking out a pair in the first frame of his 2020 campaign. Facing another second-year right-hander in Dylan Cease, the Indians got to work quickly in the home half after a good at bat from Cesar Hernandez concluded with a single to right. Jose Ramirez worked Cease for seven pitches before flying to center for the first out. Lindor cut and missed on a low changeup for strike one of his at bat, then caught a four-seamer in his nitro zone, sending the pitch well over the wall in right for a two-run blast to put the Indians up early. Carlos Santana followed with an infield single to short before he was stranded there.
Civale struck out a pair in the second before the Indians padded their lead. In a 2-1 count, Bradley Zimmer got a changeup left over the middle of the plate and he turned on it, homering for the first time since May of 2018 to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Civale retired Leury Garcia on a grounder and Adam Engel looking on three straight strikes to set down the first nine hitters with five total strikeouts, but Tim Anderson got a run back with his first homer of the season to make it a 3-1 game.
The Indians delivered a knockout punch on Cease in the third and missed an opportunity to break the game wide open. With one out in the inning, Santana singled for the second straight trip. Mike Freeman was hit by a pitch and Daniel Johnson recorded his first Major League hit with a single to center to load the bases. Chicago turned to its bullpen and called on Jace Fry, but Zimmer delivered his second run of the game with a single to left to score Santana to make it 4-1. With the bases still full of Indians, Roberto Perez grounded into a double play to waste a big scoring threat.
Civale walked a tight rope in the fourth to keep the advantage at three. Jose Abreu opened the inning with a double and after a strikeout, Edwin Encarnacion reached on a single to third. Nicky Delmonico walked to load the bases. Luis Robert chopped a ball back to the mound, where Civale fielded and fired to the plate for the force. The return throw from Perez to Santana to try to complete the double play at first was just late, leaving the Sox alive with the bases still loaded. Civale worked his magic, getting Garcia to ground an 0-1 pitch to Santana, who completed the flip to his pitcher covering to dodge a big scare.
The Indians loaded the bases against the White Sox bullpen in the fourth, but could not extend their lead. With two men down, Ramirez walked and Lindor singled to short, ending Fry’s outing. Jimmy Cordero came on and promptly walked Santana to load the bases, but Freeman lined to right to strand three more.
The Sox got to Civale again in the top of the fifth. Anderson doubled to right-center with one out and moved to third on a single to center by Moncada that dropped just in front of Zimmer. Abreu grounded to short for the second out, but with a big run standing at third, Civale struck out the former All-Star Yasmani Grandal to leave another runner on base.
Former Tribe lefty Ross Detwiler took over for the ChiSox in the fifth and retired all six men that he faced with three strikeouts in two innings of work. Meanwhile, Civale finished his outing with a hit allowed and his career-high ninth strikeout in the sixth to leave with a 4-2 lead and a quality outing to his credit.
James Karinchak took over on the mound for Terry Francona to open the seventh and issued a seven-pitch walk to light-hitting Engel to open his day, but he got Anderson swinging on a ball out of the zone for the first out with Engel advancing to second on the wild pitch. Moncada was frozen on a hook in a three-pitch blink of an eye for the second out and Abreu had no better luck, whiffing on high heat on a payoff pitch.
Steve Cishek worked around a one-out walk of Santana in the seventh before the Sox threatened again in the eighth. Encarnacion was plunked on the knob of the bat by Nick Wittgren with one out, but despite a challenge from Francona, Encarnacion was awarded first base on the hit by pitch call on the field. Delmonico singled to center and Robert singled to right to load the bases again. Garcia grounded to the hole between first and second, where Santana made the play and threw to the plate to force his former trade-mate Encarnacion for the second out. Pinch-hitter Zack Collins worked the count to full, but with the string out, he fouled off a pitch before sending a fly to left, where Oscar Mercado shagged the fly to get Wittgren off of the hook.
Cleveland was retired in order in the bottom of the eighth to send the game to the ninth, with closer Brad Hand coming to the mound looking for his second save of the season. It came with a scare after Anderson blasted a deep double to left to open the inning’s action. After a strikeout by Moncada and a flyout by Abreu to center, Grandal delivered his first RBI with the White Sox with a single to left, cutting the score to 4-3. With the tying run on at first in pinch-runner Ryan Goins, Encarnacion stepped in and saw the count go full before he was caught looking on a slider to end it.
The Indians improved to 3-1 on the season with the game one victory. The White Sox fell to 1-3 with their second straight loss.
Civale got the win for the Tribe on Tuesday after another quality start. He worked six innings and threw an even 100 pitches, allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and nine strikeouts. He commanded the plate throughout the day, working a good amount of the time with either 0-2 or 1-2 counts on the scoreboard while dominating all four quadrants of the zone. He mixed his offspeed pitches with his hard stuff effectively, keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate.
“I thought they made him work. There were some really tough innings,” said Francona after the game. “He fortunately made some pitches, as kind of every pitcher did. We bent a lot but we didn’t break. In the end it was good enough. It seemed like they had base runners almost every inning and chances to do stuff.”
Cease lasted just seven outs to take his first loss of the year. He allowed four runs on seven hits, including two costly home runs. He struck out one and made just 64 pitches on the day. The Chicago bullpen saved the day for Chicago manager Rick Renteria, as they provided five and two-thirds scoreless innings of two-hit relief, walking three and striking out seven in that span.
Both teams left small villages on the bases. The Indians stranded eight men, going 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The White Sox were worse, posting a 4-for-15 effort while leaving 11 on base.
The Indians had four two-hit games in the lineup on Tuesday afternoon. Hernandez went 2-for-4 with two singles and a run scored. Lindor went 2-for-4 with his first homer of the year and two runs batted in. Santana reached base safely in all four trips, hitting two singles and drawing two walks while scoring once. Zimmer plated a pair in a two-hit day, hitting an RBI-single and a solo homer in four plate appearances.
“That first ball that he hit, it was hard to even tell, I think he shows how strong he is,” said Francona of Zimmer’s homer. “He got under it a lot and everyone’s kind of looking, then all of a sudden it’s going back a few rows. That was nice to see.”
The White Sox outhit the Tribe, racking up eleven hits. Anderson had three at the top of the lineup, scoring all three of Chicago’s runs on the day. Moncada was 2-for-5 behind him, but struck out three times. Abreu and Grandal each had an RBI, with the Sox catcher also whiffing three times.
Renteria was back in the Chicago dugout for the first game of the doubleheader. He was scheduled to miss the series opener on Monday, had it not been rained out, after waking up with some symptoms of the coronavirus. After experiencing a cough and congestion, he was sent to a Cleveland-area hospital to be evaluated and spent the evening at the team’s hotel. Bench coach Joe McEwing would have managed had the game taken place on Monday.
Game two, scheduled to start approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first game, will pit Adam Plutko, not right-hander Zach Plesac, against veteran Sox southpaw Carlos Rodon. Plutko, the 28-year-old set to begin his fourth big league season, allowed three runs or fewer in 75% of his starts a year ago. He was 7-5 last season in 21 games (20 starts) with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He will get the spot start, which will keep the rotation spread out and not force a situation in which Civale was needed on short rest in four days. Rodon will look to stay healthy for the first time in years after battling left shoulder and elbow issues over the past two campaigns. He went 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in seven starts last season.
Plesac was bumped back to Wednesday night’s start against Chicago.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images