Four-Run Sox Sixth Leads Chicago Past Cleveland; CWS 8, CLE 5
Bob Toth | On 20, Apr 2021
Cleveland finally found its way into the hit column against Chicago’s Carlos Rodon, but could not slow down the dangerous White Sox lineup as the Southsiders used four long balls in the middle of the game to knock off the host Indians, 8-5, on Tuesday night.
In his first start since throwing a no-hitter last Wednesday, Rodon was far less effective on the mound, but the Tribe bats were unable to make a lot of noise on a chilly night from Progressive Field. Zach Plesac, who was bashed early and often in his prior start against Rodon last week, allowed a pair of early homers before a messy sixth inning left his ERA still bloated after back-to-back rough outings.
Rodon carried his no-hit innings streak against the Indians through the first two innings of Tuesday’s contest, although he issued a pair of walks in the first and another in the second. Plesac came out strong, getting four ground ball outs, a line out, and a strikeout in the first two frames.
Action picked up in the third. Luis Robert kicked off the inning with the game’s first hit, doubling to left. He moved to third on a groundout by Andrew Vaughn and scored on a grounder to third by Nick Madrigal. Despite the tougher hitting conditions, Tim Anderson punched up another run for the Sox, driving Plesac’s payoff pitch to the seats in front of the center field bullpens for his third of the year, giving Chicago a 2-0 lead.
The Indians got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Jordan Luplow, who drew a walk to start the game, pushed the count to 2-2 before jumping on high heat and driving it over the 19-foot wall in left for a solo shot. His fifth of the year made it a 2-1 game.
Chicago responded with another long ball in the fourth. After Yoan Moncada struck out looking, Jose Abreu clouted a blast three-quarters of the way up the bleachers in left. The 458-foot monstrosity pushed the White Sox lead back to two at 3-1.
The Tribe lineup put together a good inning in the home half, but an unfortunate ending to the inning squandered a big rally effort. Amed Rosario reached on an error on a bad throw from Madrigal to Yermin Mercedes at first base. Josh Naylor found his way to first for the second time this season via catcher’s interference, putting two on for Roberto Perez. A wild pitch advanced the runners before Perez drew a walk to load the bases. Rodon came back and struck out Yu Chang and Luplow to leave the inning hanging in the balance. Cesar Hernandez ripped the next pitch to third. The ball deflected off of the glove of Moncada into deep short. Rosario scored from third, but an alert play by Anderson allowed him to stop the ball from rolling deep into the outfield. He fired to Moncada, who threw to Yasmani Grandal at the plate to nab Naylor easily for the final out after he blew through Mike Sarbaugh’s stop sign at third.
Plesac stranded a man at third in the fifth. Robert singled, stole second one out later, and advanced to third on a groundout by Madrigal. Anderson chopped a 2-1 pitch back to Plesac to leave the runner at third.
After a scoreless home half of the fifth, the Sox delivered the knockout punch to Plesac. Three straight hits to open the inning extended the Chicago lead, as Adam Eaton singled to center and scored on a double by Moncada before he touched home on a single to center by Abreu. Cal Quantrill entered in relief and got the first batter that he faced before Grandal relocated a 2-2 pitch to the right field seats for a two-run home run, giving the Sox a 7-2 advantage. Chicago followed with two more base hits from Robert and Vaughn before a pair of ground balls got Quantrill out of his mess.
Evan Marshall retired the side in order in the sixth before the White Sox added one more insurance run. Lanky lefty Sam Hentges entered the lopsided affair for his Major League debut and struck out Eaton and Moncada swinging. He did not have the same luck with the veteran and reigning MVP Abreu, who planted his second homer of the night into the bleachers to make it an 8-2 game. Hentges responded with his third strikeout of the evening, punching out Leury Garcia swinging in an eventful big league debut for the 24-year-old.
Despite the large deficit, the Indians remained in the contest, but missed opportunities prevented them from coming all the way back against the White Sox bullpen. A pair of walks to open the seventh against Aaron Bummer by Luplow and Hernandez set the stage for some offense. Jose Ramirez flied to right but Franmil Reyes delivered an RBI-single through the right side of the infield to plate Luplow. With two on and only one out, Eddie Rosario was cut down swinging before A. Rosario flied to center to strand a pair.
Phil Maton pitched a perfect eighth before the Indians tried another rally against Garrett Crochet. Naylor drew a leadoff walk, but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice. Jake Bauers reached on the second catcher’s interference of the game to put two runners on. Luplow drew another walk to load the bases, bringing manager Tony La Russa out of the dugout for Codi Heuer. He got out of the jam, getting Hernandez to fly to first before Ramirez was robbed of RBIs on a liner to first.
Trevor Stephan walked one in a scoreless ninth before the Tribe took the plate with three outs to go against Heuer. Reyes opened the inning with a single to right and moved to second on a passed ball. E. Rosario grounded out and A. Rosario struck out, but Naylor doubled high off of the left field wall to score Reyes with Cleveland’s fourth run. Perez followed with a single to center, moving Naylor across the plate to cut the deficit to 8-5. La Russa returned to center diamond, bringing on his closer Liam Hendriks. He got Bauers to ground to third to end the ball game.
Cleveland dropped to 8-8 in defeat and 4-2 at home on the year. Chicago moved back to even at 9-9, including a 6-6 mark on the road.
Plesac was good at times and bad at times for the Tribe in another rough start against Chicago. This time, he lasted five-plus innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four on 92 pitches, including 62 strikes. His ball had better movement than his last start, when he was unable to make it out of the first inning, but a couple of mistakes came back to haunt him. He dropped to 1-3 on the year.
“I think a couple heaters leaked over the plate and they’re an aggressive lineup, so they jumped on it,” Plesac said after the game. “A couple mistakes with the offspeed…they didn’t miss, so I have to tip my cap to them.”
Hentges, up from the team’s alternate training site due to an increased work load of late by the Tribe’s bullpen, struck out three of the first four big league batters that he faced.
“I thought his stuff was really good. He left one slider up to Abreu,” said manager Terry Francona. “We got Abreu going, which is not a good thing to do. I thought he really looked composed, he looked poised, he threw strikes, and his stuff was really good.”
Rodon improved to 3-0 on the season with another successful start against Cleveland. He was nowhere near as dominant as he was in his prior effort, as command provided him some issues throughout the night. He walked five, but minimized that damage with just three hits allowed while striking out eight. He made it through just five innings as the Indians pushed his pitch count to 110 throws on the night, and he was charged with two runs (one earned) to push his season ERA up to 0.47.
Hendriks needed just three pitches to earn his third save of the season.
It was a weird offensive night for the Tribe lineup, as the club drew more walks (9) than hits (7). Reyes led the way with three base hits. Luplow’s homer provided his eleventh RBI of the season, while Reyes and Perez both got their ninth. Luplow reached four times, drawing three of the team’s walks out of the leadoff spot to push his season on-base percentage to .405.
What may prove disconcerting for Cleveland was that their pitching woke up the struggling bat of Abreu, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored on the night out of the cleanup spot. Robert also had a three-hit day at the plate. The AL’s leading hitter, Mercedes, went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before leaving the game several innings after fouling a foot off of his lower leg. His season average dropped to .390.
The Indians and White Sox will wrap up their quick two-game set from Progressive Field on Wednesday night in a 6:10 PM ET first pitch. Right-hander Aaron Civale (3-0, 2.18 ERA) will make his fourth start of April for Cleveland, while Chicago had not formally announced a pitcher for its portion of the pitching probables.
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)