Franmil Reyes blasted a three-run double in the first inning and Jake Bauers added a two-run homer in the fourth while rookie pitcher Aaron Civale delivered another solid start in a 11-3 Indians win against the woebegone Chicago White Sox.
The teams combined for 18 walks in a four hour and seven minute marathon matchup fueled by pitching changes, injury delays and deep counts. Cleveland won for just the sixth time in 13 meetings with Chicago, as the clubs will tangle six more times before season’s end. The Indians have won at least 13 games against the White Sox in each of the last two seasons.
“I got a dentist appointment in the morning and feel like I’ve already been there,” Indians manager Terry Francona joked. “We set out to win the game, and we did that. We were a little free and loose with the ball and had too many walks.
“But we won the game and you don’t ever want to lose sight of that,” he added. “But we did some things that won’t allow us to put our best foot forward if we continue to do things like that.”
The Indians (80-58) moved a full game ahead of idle Oakland (78-58) for the road spot in the American League Wild Card Game, and stayed a half-game behind Tampa Bay (81-58) for the top position. Cleveland’s deficit in the AL Central Division remained 5.5 games behind Minnesota.
Civale allowed three runs in five innings, but only one of those runs was earned thanks to throwing errors by Mike Freeman and Yasiel Puig. Freeman’s wild throw on an attempted double play in the fourth led to an RBI double by Yolmer Sanchez, and Puig’s errant heave from right in the fifth set up an RBI sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu.
However, Civale was able to minimize the damage in both innings, finishing with four strikeouts and three walks while surrendering seven hits on 88 pitches. It was the first time in seven starts that the right-hander did not pitch at least 5 2/3 innings. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any outing this year.
Civale (3-3), who made his big league debut in June and rejoined the Indians on Aug. 5, has won back-to-back decisions for the first time in his career after dropping three straight. His 1.94 ERA is the lowest among rookies with at least five starts.
“Didn’t have a ton of life on his fastball,” Francona said of Civale. “Even with his delivery. Getting him through five innings felt like it was plenty.”
Jake Bauers’ pinch-hit home run in the fourth scored Yasiel Puig and pushed Cleveland’s advantage to 6-2. It was Bauers’ first big-league home run since July 7 after spending nearly the entire month of August at Triple-A Columbus. Carlos Santana added a solo shot in the sixth for his 32nd homer, two shy of his career high of 34 set in 2016.
Nick Goody loaded the bases in the seventh before manager Terry Francona called for Adam Cimber to face Chicago left fielder Eloy Jimenez. Cimber worked ahead of Jimenez and got the rookie to ground into an inning-ending double play as Santana threw to Francisco Lindor at second and Lindor’s relay throw was taken by Cimber at the first base bag.
The play was eerily similar to a late-inning miscue in New York on Aug. 21 when Brad Hand failed to cover first for a potential game-ending double play against the Mets. This time, Cimber was in the right place at the right time, tapping the bag with his toe just ahead of the lumbering Jimenez.
“Cimber with the bit spot and it was just a great play all the way around,” Francona said. “It’s 6-5 if we don’t get that one.”
Cleveland scored three more in the bottom of the seventh as Lindor muscled an RBI single over Sanchez’s head, Mike Freeman came home on Oscar Mercado’s sacrifice fly and Lindor scored on a brought scored on an RBI single to left by Santana that pushed the Indians’ advantage to seven.
Rookie Yu Chang drove in a run with a ground out in the eighth for his first big-league RBI to make the score 11-3.
Chicago starter Ross Detwiler (2-5, 6.79) walked six batters, including three in the first inning before Reyes’ two-out double off the wall in left center made it 3-0 Indians. After recording just four hits in his first 11 games with the Tribe, Reyes is now hitting .300 with a .627 slugging percentage, a 1.009 OPS, nine walks, 10 runs scored and 17 RBI in his last 19 contests.
Chicago got on the scoreboard in the third after a leadoff double by Leury Garcia and an RBI ground out by Abreu. But Mercado prevented another run with his fifth outfield assist.
Yoan Moncada doubled with two out, and tried to score on Eloy Jimenez’s base hit to center that just got over the glove of a leaping Freeman. Mercado charged the ball and made a strong throw home to Roberto Perez, who tagged the sliding Moncada for the final out of the third.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected by home plate umpire Mark Carlson in the bottom of the fifth after arguing balls and strikes during a Francisco Lindor at-bat. Lindor swung at a low two-strike curveball from Chicago lefty Jace Frye that Carlson ruled was trapped against the dirt by catcher Wellington Castillo. Renteria disagreed with Carlson’s ruling and earned an early trip to the showers.
Meanwhile, the injury bug continued to nip at the Indians as catcher Roberto Perez was removed after the fifth inning with a bruised left foot.
The series continues Tuesday with a 7:10 p.m. first pitch scheduled at Progressive Field. Righty Mike Clevinger (10-2, 2.72) faces the White Sox and right-hander Dylan Cease (3-7, 6.92). The game will air on SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM.
Clevinger has won nine consecutive decisions and is 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in seven starts at home. He is 3-2 in his career against the White Sox, including seven shutout innings in a win April 1. Cease will make his first ever start against Cleveland. The rookie is 2-3 with an 8.61 ERA in five career starts against the AL Central.