After a long dry spell of several weeks during which the Cleveland Indians found it nearly impossible to score runs, the team has scored 21 runs in its last three games.
The trouble is, they scored all 21 of those runs in the first two of those three games. Today they didn’t score anything—zero, zilch, zip, bupkis, nada—and the pitching staff gave up 11 of the darned things, as the White Sox stomped the Indians by a score of 11-0 at Progressive Field tonight. In a game which the White Sox absolutely had to win to keep their all-but-moribund playoff hopes alive, the Sox came through in a big way. They held the Indians to only five baserunners all evening, and two of those came in the ninth inning when the game was well in hand for Chicago.
Rookie pitcher Hector Santiago started for the White Sox and went seven innings, giving up only one hit, a third-inning single to Shin-Soo Choo. White Sox pitchers struck out 12 Indians hitters; Santiago recorded 10 of them. Each Indians starter except Michael Brantley struck out at least once; Lonnie Chisenhall whiffed three times.
Indians starter Corey Kluber started out strong, shutting the White Sox down over the first five innings, holding them scoreless over that time. But he seemed to run out of gas in the sixth inning, allowing three hits and a walk and giving the White Sox a 2-0 lead. With his pitch count nearing the magic 100 mark, interim Tribe manager Sandy Alomar Jr. brought out Joe Smith to try to stanch the bleeding, but Smith gave up run-scoring singles to the first two batters he faced, and when the inning finally ended, Kluber was on the hook for four runs.
The White Sox scored again in the eighth, and they turned the game into a joke in the ninth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs. The big blow was a grand slam by Dayan Viciedo off Indians reliever Scott Maine.
Despite the win, the White Sox were eliminated from contention as winners of the AL Central Division about an hour after the game ended, as the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-3. The Tigers are once again the AL Central champs, and the White Sox, who even with tonight’s win are 3-7 over their last 10 games, will, like the Indians, watch the postseason from the comfort of their own homes.
I got to attend tonight’s game for free as part of the Indians’ Social Media Appreciation Night (Update: I wrote more about the event in this post).
In recent years, I’d fallen out of the habit of attending Indians games in late September, or October, on the grounds that A) the Indians are usually out of contention by then, and B) it gets kind of chilly at Progressive Field in the fall. But I found myself going to two games in the last four days and having a pretty good time, win or lose. I can’t do anything about condition A) above, but there’s nothing about condition B) that can’t be fixed by wearing a comfortable sweatshirt or hoodie. While of course I hope that next year finds the Indians playing meaningful games in the last week of the season, I know that I’ll be sure to attend a game or two next fall no matter what.