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Maligned bullpen delivers again for Indians

By JOE NOGA • May 29, 2018 at 12:50 AM

CLEVELAND — Unexpected runs were dropping out of the sky for the Cleveland Indians in a 9-6 win against the Chicago White Sox on Monday at Progressive Field.

Cleveland scored five times in the fifth inning thanks to three Chicago errors as the Tribe's offense turned a three-run deficit into a two-run lead. Four relievers backed up undefeated rookie starter Adam Plutko (3-0, 3.93) as the Indians moved two games over .500 for the first time since May 4.

"It's a good way to win," manager Terry Francona said. "Any time you keep pushing, or get a line moving, however you want to say it... That's a good way to play."

The Indians loaded the bases in the fifth when Yan Gomes reached on a throwing error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. On the previous pitch, catcher Alfredo Gonzalez had dropped a Gomes foul pop for an error to extend the at-bat. White Sox starter Dylan Covey (1-2, 3.63) then allowed a Francisco Lindor hit and issued a walk to Michael Brantley.

After Jose Ramirez popped out, Edwin Encarnacion sent a two-out fly ball toward the right field line that Chicago's Daniel Palka could not reach. The ball kicked off Palka's glove as Encarnacion checked in with a bases-clearing double that tied the score at 5-5.

Francona credited third base coach Mike Sarbaugh for his aggressiveness in trying to score baserunners for the second straight game.

"Sarby did a great job," Francona said. "He was so vocal and so animated that he got their attention. Not that they don't run. But getting that last run was huge. Then we tacked on."

Yonder Alonso followed with an RBI double to the wall in center field against reliever Jace Fry. Yan Moncada's error on a grounder by Melky Cabrera allowed Alonso to score for a 7-5 Indians lead.

Alonso, who drove in the Tribe's second run with an RBI double in the fourth, has four extra-base hits and six RBI in his last three games.

An RBI single by Lindor in the sixth and a solo home run by Encarnacion in the seventh pushed Cleveland's lead to 9-5. Lindor added a single in the eighth inning for his eighth three-hit game of the year.

Tyler Olson, Evan Marshall, Neil Ramirez and Ben Taylor pitched the final four innings in relief of Plutko. Taylor allowed the only bullpen run of the game on an RBI double by Omar Narvaez in the ninth.

The bullpen's effort was not lost on Francona, who said after a taxing day Sunday, the quartet was able to restore a sense of order moving forward.

"The guys that were down, they were going to be down anyway," Francona said. "But it's nice to have a day where they don't pick up a baseball and hopefully get a little bit more back in line where you feel like you can cover a game normally."

Chicago's defense did not provide much help for young pitchers such as Covey and Fry. Besides the three-error fifth inning, Gonzalez added a passed ball in the sixth and White Sox pitchers uncorked two wild pitches.

Meanwhile, Plutko struggled with his command early on, walking leadoff batter Moncada on four pitches. Moncada stole second and advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Jose Abreu's RBI sacrifice fly for a 1-0 Chicago lead.

The White Sox jumped ahead in the fourth inning as Plutko served up back-to-back solo home runs to Chicago rookie first baseman Matt Skole and shortstop Tim Anderson. Skole, making his major league debut, blasted a fastball 418 feet to left after Plutko had fallen behind in the count 3-1.

Skole collected his first big-league hit on the first pitch he saw from Plutko in the second. He came around to score on Adam Engel's RBI triple two batters later.

"I didn't put together enough good, quality innings to what I feel like really give my team a chance to win a ballgame and granted, they picked me up and did a phenomenal job in every facet of the game," Plutko said. "I feel lucky today."

Still streaking

Michael Brantley extended his season-high hit streak to 17 games with a base hit in the first inning. It's the longest active streak in the majors and is the third-longest run of his career. Brantley had a 22-game streak in 2012 and a 19-game stretch in 2010.

During the streak, Brantley is hitting .347 with five home runs, 17 RBI and 16 runs scored.

What it means

The Indians are 78-91-1 all-time on Memorial Day, winning two of their last three. It's the fourth straight season the Indians have hosted a Memorial Day game. Last year, the club defeated Oakland, 5-3.

Thanks for coming

The White Sox and Indians drew 23,729 fans to Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon. First pitch was at 4:10 p.m. with a temperature of 86 degrees under sunny skies.

Up next

The series continues at 6:10 p.m. tonight. Right-hander Mike Clevinger (3-2, 3.32) will make his 11th start of the season against Chicago's Lucas Giolito (3-5, 7.53). SportsTime Ohio will televise the game and WLKR/FM 95.3 will carry the game on radio.

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