Cleveland’s Zach Plesac and three Indians relievers combined on a four-hitter in Chicago on Sunday, blanking the White Sox in a 5-0 final from Guaranteed Rate Field.
Plesac exorcised some demons in the finale of the three-game set from the southside of Chicago on Sunday, pitching into the sixth inning and limiting the dangerous Sox lineup to just three hits, despite several threats across the afternoon. He got some support from his offense, which supplied a pair of solo homers, including one in a three-run seventh inning to break open a 2-0 game at the time.
Facing off with the tough, but scuffling Lucas Giolito, the Indians missed out on several early scoring opportunities to provide support for Plesac. Jose Ramirez was stranded after a two-out double in the first and Amed Rosario was left at third in the second after singling with one out, stealing second, and moving to third on a liner to right.
Plesac stranded men in each of the first two innings before the Tribe put up the first run of the day. After a strikeout by Austin Hedges to start the third, Cesar Hernandez found a changeup over the plate to his liking and blasted it over the 400 foot designation on the center field wall, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Plesac pitched his way into and out of a jam in the home half. After getting the first two men on grounders to the left side, he walked Adam Eaton. He moved to second on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt before Yoan Moncada drew a walk to win a nine-pitch battle. Jose Abreu was plunked with a 2-2 pitch to load the bases, but Plesac recovered and left the bags full by striking out Jake Lamb on three straight strikes.
The Indians added to their run total in the fourth. A. Rosario tripled to right with one out and scored one batter later as Moncada misplayed a ball in play by Jake Bauers.
Plesac allowed a pair of singles in the fourth, but kept the Sox off of the board. Giolito did similar, giving up a two-out walk to Ramirez and a single to Eddie Rosario to put runners on the corners before Josh Naylor flied out to center.
Cleveland’s starter threw his first 1-2-3 inning of the day in the fifth, while the Indians left another runner in scoring position in the sixth. Giolito got the hook after walking Bauers with one out, but Jose Ruiz got a fielder’s choice force at second and a fly out to leave Andres Gimenez at second after a wild pitch.
Plesac walked his fourth batter of the game to start the sixth before getting the next two on outs in the air. Leury Garcia stepped in with Lamb at first, but he struck out swinging against Bryan Shaw.
Cleveland broke the game open in the seventh against Codi Heuer. Hernandez singled before a strikeout by Daniel Johnson. Ramirez stepped in and parked a two-run home run over the wall in the right field corner to double the Indians’ lead to 4-0. E. Rosario kept the rally going with a single to right-center and moved to second on a groundout by Naylor. A. Rosario’s big day at the plate continued with his third hit of the game, driving a single to right to score E. Rosario and make it a 5-0 game.
Shaw returned to center diamond in the seventh and retired the Sox lineup quickly on nine pitches. James Karinchak struck out the side in the eighth and Emmanuel Clase, working in a non-save situation, gave up an infield single with one out to Andrew Vaughn before stranding him at second on a strikeout and a ground out.
The third place Indians improved to 13-13 on the season and 6-7 on the road. The second place White Sox are a game and a half in front of Cleveland at 15-12. The season series between the two clubs is deadlocked at 4-4 through the first eight contests. Neither team has won consecutive games against the other this year.
Plesac made it two outs into the sixth inning, making up for a pair of rough starts against the White Sox. After dropping his first two decisions against them while allowing 12 runs on 14 hits in just five and two-thirds innings, he threw five and two-thirds scoreless against them on Sunday, giving up three hits and four walks while striking out six on 110 pitches.
“I wasn’t thinking about the last two starts,” said Plesac. “I was thinking about getting this team, put them in position to win the series. It was a big game for me, a big game for us.”
The bullpen threw three and one-third one-hit innings behind him with no walks and five strikeouts.
Giolito dropped to 1-3 on the year with a tough-luck effort. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, walking three and striking out eight while coming up on the wrong side of the win column again. Heuer was tagged for three runs on four hits in an inning of work in the seventh.
Ramirez was the hitting star for the Tribe on Sunday, reaching base all five trips. After his first inning double, he was walked in back-to-back trips before hitting his eighth homer of the year. He was plunked in his last at bat of the day. A. Rosario entered well below the .200 mark at the plate, but posted a three-hit day to jolt his average up to .211. Hernandez and E. Rosario each added two-hit games. Johnson had a day to forget out of the two-hole, going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in his second game of the season, achieving the dubious “platinum sombrero”.
All four White Sox hits on the day were base hits, with two coming from Vaughn. Moncada and Lamb each struck out three times as the two teams combined for 23 on the day.
Luis Robert, who had to be helped off of the field after legging out his first inning single, will be placed on the 10-day injured list by the White Sox on Monday with a strained right hip flexor.
The Indians will continue their road trip in Kansas City, opening a four-game weekday series against the first place Royals on Monday night. The White Sox are off on Monday before starting a two-game series in Cincinnati against the Reds, ahead of their matchup with KC next weekend.
Photo: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh