The White Sox gave it their all in the top of the ninth against reliever James Karinchak, but he escaped the scary save situation with his seventh of the year as the Cleveland Indians held off Chicago by a 6-5 count on Tuesday night.
After losing a first inning lead, the Indians came back to tie the game in the third and double their score in the fourth to take a commanding 6-3 lead in support of starter Shane Bieber, but the White Sox put up a pair of runs in the ninth off of Karinchak and had their biggest threat at the plate in Jose Abreu with the bases loaded before the Tribe’s hard throwing right-hander got the reigning American League MVP to chop to short to leave the tying and go-ahead runs stranded on the bases.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of infield hits off of Dylan Cease. Amed Rosario singled to right with one out and swiped second base. Jose Ramirez grounded out for the second out. Eddie Rosario swung and missed on a slider low for strike three, but the ball skipped away from catcher Zack Collins to keep the inning alive. Josh Naylor knocked in a run legging out an infield single to short and both runners moved up 90 feet on a balk by Cease. That proved all the more costly as Harold Ramirez plated a second run with an infield single off of Cease’s glove towards short to give the Tribe a 2-0 start.
Chicago responded with an unusual play in the second to score three runs with two outs. Yermin Mercedes opened the inning with a liner to short before Jake Lamb drew a walk. Bieber struck out Andrew Vaughn for the second out before Collins singled to center. Tribe spring training invitee Billy Hamilton launched a drive deep to the gap in right-center and off of the wall. Lamb scored with ease, while Cesar Hernandez’s relay throw to the plate popped out of the glove of catcher Austin Hedges when he tried to tag Collins. The speedy Hamilton was alert throughout and capitalized on the error, motoring home and face-planting on top of the dish for a Little League homer. The double put the White Sox up, 3-2.
Cease worked around a two-out single by Hernandez in the second before the White Sox threatened again. Nick Madrigal reached to start things off on an error by A. Rosario. Yoan Moncada moved the runner up with a single to left, but Abreu grounded into a 5-3 double play. With a runner still in scoring position in the one-run game, Mercedes flied out to right.
The Indians struck through for a run in the third to tie the game. J. Ramirez doubled to right, moved to third on a grounder by Naylor for the second out, and scored on a single to left by H. Ramirez. He was left stranded after a stolen base on a foul out by Jake Bauers.
Bieber used another double play ball to get out of the fourth inning before the Indians took the lead back. Bradley Zimmer singled to right-center to kick off the inning. Hedges worked the count full before getting on top of a slider and sending it to the Home Run Porch for a clutch two-run home run. His third of the year gave Cleveland a 5-3 lead. Hernandez was retired for the first out before A. Rosario walked to win an eight-pitch confrontation, bringing Chicago skipper Tony La Russa out of the dugout for relief. Jose Ruiz took over, but his second pitch to Ramirez was blooped into center field for a double. A. Rosario, hustling hard the whole way, scored all the way from first on a good read to give the Indians an extra run at 6-3.
Bieber retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth and worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh in his final inning of work.
While the Sox bullpen shut down the Tribe bats in order the rest of the game, the Chicago bats threatened against the strong Cleveland relief corps. In the eighth, the Sox brought the tying run to the plate against Bryan Shaw. He allowed a leadoff single to Tim Anderson and walked Moncada with one out, but he came back to get Abreu to pop to second before striking out Mercedes. In the ninth, Lamb singled to right-center and moved to second on a wild pitch. Vaughn was retired on a fly to right, but Collins knocked the runner in with a single to left. Pinch-hitter Adam Eaton struck out swinging for the second out, but the next three reached safely as Anderson singled, Madrigal singled to score Collins to make it 6-5, and Moncada walked on six pitches to load the bases. Karinchak fell behind Abreu 2-0, but a fastball low and away was grounded to A. Rosario at short to end it.
Cleveland is now 30-24 on the year, two and a half games in back of first place Chicago (33-22). The win marked the first time in the season series that either team had claimed consecutive victories.
Bieber improved his pitch count in the later innings to last seven frames for the Tribe. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, walking two and striking out seven to improve to 6-3 on the season. Cease was charged with all six Tribe runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts in his worst outing of the year.
The White Sox and Indians will wrap up their four-game homestand in a 1:10 PM ET start on Wednesday.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images