The Cleveland Indians were riding high before tonight’s game against the Chicago White Sox. They’d just won eight of their last ten games, and had just completed a successful eight-game home stand, going 6-2, including a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
But the White Sox have been on a hot streak of their own, having won seven of their last ten, and they showed up at Chicago’s U. S. Cellular Field ready to play ball. Tonight they beat the Indians by a score of 9-3.
After getting into trouble early in the game by giving up a two-run homer to Adam Dunn and a solo homer to A.J. Pierzynski, Tribe starter Jeanmar Gomez seemed to find command of his pitches in the third inning. The Indians trailed 3-2 going into the sixth inning, but when Gomez retired the first two hitters in that frame on only four pitches, the Indians must have felt as though they still had a decent chance to mount a late rally and get back into the game. But Gomez was out of gas. He walked Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo, then gave up an RBI single to Alexei Ramirez. Jairo Asencio came on in relief, but provided no relief at all, walking the first batter he faced on four pitches. The next batter, Alejandro De Aza, singled on a 3-2 pitch, driving in two more runs and making the score 6-2. Asencio had a lousy seventh inning too, allowing three runs, two of which scored when Viciedo homered.
Jose Quintana made his first major league start for the Sox today, having been called up from AAA due to the injury of Sox starter John Danks. Earlier this month, Quintana pitched effectively in relief against the Indians, and he was just as impressive today, going six innings and allowing only two runs, both of them earned.
Speaking of debuts, Juan Diaz of the Indians made his first major league appearance in the bottom of the seventh inning, replacing Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop. Cabrera left the game due to a tight hamstring. When Diaz came to bat for the first time, in the eighth inning, it was with the Tribe trailing 9-2, and Jason Kipnis on first with one out. Diaz must have been surprised when Kipnis stole second on the first pitch! Teams typically don’t try to steal when they’re down by seven runs with two innings left to play. The steal attempt was successful, but Diaz went on to look at a called third strike. I don’t believe in a lot of the “unwritten rules of baseball,” but some of them make a lot of sense, and I don’t think Kipnis should have tried to steal in that situation. With only six outs left in the game, the potential gain was too little to risk the chance of being thrown out at second.
Also leaving the game early was Indians catcher Carlos Santana, who was hit in the facemask by a foul ball. As of this writing, it’s not clear whether these two men will be ready to play on Saturday. With Jack Hannahan and Travis Hafner also injured (Hafner didn’t even make the trip from Cleveland to Chicago), the Indians had better hope their injuries aren’t too severe, or else they could find themselves on the wrong end of the sweep broom by Sunday evening.
Of course, by losing to Chicago, the Indians lost a game on the White Sox in the standings, and with the Tigers beating the Twins, Detroit gained a game on the Tribe as well. The Indians now lead the White Sox by 2½ games in the AL Central, and they lead the Tigers by 5 games.
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