Civale Hurt but Tribe and Bullpen Shut Out Cubs; CLE 4, CHC 0

The depleted Cleveland starting rotation took another hit on Monday, but the Indians bullpen picked up the slack to complete a six-hit 4-0 shutout of the Chicago Cubs in the first of two from Wrigley Field.

The latest in the growing list of walking wounded for the Tribe is Aaron Civale, who exited in the middle of an at bat in the fifth inning on Monday night. The last man standing in the starting rotation left with what was described as a right middle finger injury, but four relievers handled the rest of the load to protect a three-run lead to get the team back to ten games over the .500 mark.

Civale was on a roll and was backed by some early run support from his Tribe teammates as the bats got to work against Adbert Alzolay in his first start in two weeks after returning from the injured list from a right middle finger blister.

Alzolay retired the first five in order before Bobby Bradley gave Cleveland an early lead. Ahead in the count 2-1, Bradley caught a slider out over the plate and slapped the ball the opposite way to left and just far enough to clear the ivy for a solo shot. His fifth of the season put the Indians on top, 1-0.

Bradley – Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Civale escaped a one-out base runner in the first with the aid of a double play ball and stranded Willson Contreras after a one-out double in the second. Eric Sogard started the third with a single, but was erased on a strike-em out, throw-em out double play to end the third. He got some help in the third on a third double play, as Kris Bryant walked to open the fourth but was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Javier Baez. Anthony Rizzo flied to left, but Baez curiously decided to bolt from first to third on the one-out fly, easily doubled up before being benched for his blunder.

Cleveland added on with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth in support of Civale. Hot hitting Harold Ramirez singled to short. He was forced at second on a groundout by Bradley, but Josh Naylor worked Alzolay deep before driving the ninth pitch of the at bat over the right field wall for his sixth homer of the year, putting the Indians up by a 3-0 count.

Civale gave up another double to Contreras to start the home half of the fifth. Patrick Wisdom struck out for the second of four times on the night before the runner moved to third on a grounder by Jason Heyward. Civale worked to Sogard, but was lifted during the at bat due to issues with his finger. Bryan Shaw replaced him and retired the batter on a groundball to short. Shaw allowed a leadoff single in the sixth before setting down the next three in order.

Nick Wittgren had his hands full after the stretch in relief of Shaw, but he was up to the task and left the mound pumped, possibly backed by the ruckus Wrigley crowd of 32,934 in attendance. Rizzo singled to center before Wittgren got the next two. Heyward shot a hit back up the middle and moved to second as the infield failed to cover the bag. With the tying run at the plate in Sogard, Wittgren pitched the count full before getting the utility man to chase a changeup off of the plate to leave a pair on base.

The Indians added a big insurance run in the eighth against Tommy Nance. After a pair of strikeouts to open the inning, Cesar Hernandez doubled over the head of Joc Pederson. A wild pitch moved the Tribe second baseman 90 feet from home and another pitch well off of the plate to walk Amed Rosario allowed Hernandez to scamper home with ease to give the Indians a 4-0 advantage.

Naylor – Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Emmanuel Clase pitched a perfect seventh, retiring Ian Happ, Pederson, and Bryant. James Karinchak had a shaky ninth, walking Rizzo and Contreras with one out, but he bounced back in true closer fashion and punched out Wisdom and Heyward swinging to strand two more as the Indians claimed a needed victory.

Cleveland improved to 40-30 on the season with its third win in as many games against the senior circuit Chicago club this year. The Indians have outscored the Cubs 9-3 in those contests. The host Cubs moved to 40-33 on the season, but remained tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the top spot in the National League Central.

Civale left with four and two-thirds innings of work in the books, coming just one out short from winning his eleventh game of the season. He allowed three hits and two walks with five strikeouts in a scoreless effort. The bullpen behind him gave up three hits and a pair of walks while striking out seven in four and one-third innings.

“The tip of his finger was bother him,” said manager Terry Francona, “so we didn’t mess around with that.”

The Indians intend on having Civale get checked out by Dr. Thomas Graham as soon as possible to assess the finger injury. The club is already without starters Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac, while the remaining spots in the rotation have been filled by a plethora of pitchers whom have been unable to claim roles of their own on the staff.

Alzolay dropped to 4-6 with his defeat. As has been the case throughout the season for him, the long ball proved to be a problem, as two of his three hits allowed left the yard and accounted for all three runs scattered. He walked one and struck out five.

The Indians had just six hits on the night, but four of those translated into runs. Bradley’s fifth and Naylor’s sixth led to three of the runs, while Hernandez’s tenth double of the campaign led to the final run. Eddie Rosario also added a hit to extend his hitting streak to nine games.

Chicago had six hits as well, but those knocks failed to emerge with runners on base. The Cubs were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven men on base. Contreras led the team with a pair of two-base hits, while Wisdom struck out four times and Pederson was cut down three times.

The Indians will conclude their brief two-game series from the northside of Chicago on Tuesday night in an 8:05 PM ET first pitch. Veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks (9-4, 4.13 ERA) will be the first to the bump for the Cubs, while rookie righty Eli Morgan (0-1, 12.79 ERA) will make his third big league start for the Tribe.

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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