Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera each had spectacular two-RBI hits and the Indians pitching staff combined for 16 strikeouts as the Indians defeated the White Sox 7-2 before 30,972 at Progressive Field.
The atmosphere at Progressive Field already has a “playoff feel” – a stark contrast from the mundane sub-10,000 crowds that filled the Jake at the beginning of this month.
Danny Salazar earned the victory for the Indians, pitching 5.1 innings while recording eight strikeouts. Salazar made only one mistake, and that was leaving a fastball over the plate that turned into a Avisail Garcia solo home run in the second inning. The rest of the staff recorded eight more strikeouts in the final 3.2 innings, including two big ones in the ninth from Justin Masterson. Masterson, who received an overwhelmingly positive response as he took the field, looked dominant while facing the overmatched White Sox batters. Whatever role that Masterson fills for the rest of the season remains to be seen, however, he looked sharp tonight.
The Indians got things going in the second with a Drew Stubbs reach on error and Michael Brantley RBI single, each plating one run. However, what really pushed the Indians ahead was Nick Swisher’s two-run home run in the fifth inning, his 21st of the season. Swisher watched as the ball majestically carried into the Indians bullpen with the crowd in a frenzy behind him. Swisher has been red hot in September, batting .272/.365/.519 with 6 HR and 15 RBI.
Drew Stubbs recorded his 43rd RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, knocking White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod out of the game after 5.2 innings. Axelrod was ineffective, allowing five runs (three earned), two walks and tallying only one strikeout.
The Indians weren’t done there, however, as Asdrubal Cabrera put the game away for good with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning of reliever Jeff Petricka. Cabrera finished 2-4 and lifted his season OBP to .300.
Tonight was the final home game of the season for the Indians, and they finished with a 51-30 (.630) record at home. Final season attendance is 1,572,926 fans, an average of 19,419 and a 9.8% decrease from 2012. The Indians improved to 14-0 in September when scoring four or more runs. This is the 14th straight time that the Indians have defeated the White Sox, and they finish the season 17-2 against Chicago. Danny Salazar had his foot stepped on in the sixth inning on a bang-band play at first and left after allowing another hit.
The Rangers and Rays both won on Wednesday night, therefore, the Wild-Card picture looks as follows:
1. Tampa Bay 89-69 +1
2. Cleveland 88-70 –
3. Texas 87-71 1 GB
4. Kansas City 83-74 4.5 GB
The Indians will finish the season in Minnesota with a four-game series. Zach McAllister (9-9, 3.88) will toe the hill against rookie phenom Andrew Albers (2-4, 3.98 ERA) tomorrow night starting at 8:10 pm EST.
In more personal news, the Indians need to finish 3-1 in their upcoming four game series to match my 91-71 prediction at the beginning of the season. Let’s go Tribe!