CLEVELAND – The grit and determination the Indians have been pursuing finally made its presence known on Saturday night at Progressive Field.
Neither was enough to erase an early, four-run deficit.
Cleveland lost 5-3 to the White Sox in a game headlined by Edwin Encarnacion’s continued progress at the plate and another shutdown effort from the bullpen.
Tomlin departs earlier than expected
Five of the first six White Sox hitters reached base in the first, including Jose Abreu with an RBI single and Matt Davidson with a two-run single.
“There was traffic right from the first hitter,” said manager Terry Francona. “He couldn’t find a feel for his breaking ball and that’s been his real good pitch as he’s been on this roll.”
The damage continued to accumulate on Melky Cabrera’s RBI single, an unearned run courtesy of Michael Brantley’s dropped catch error on the dead sprint in left field.
"I just think there’s a lot happening down in that corner when you’re running full speed, you’re getting towards the stands, you’re getting towards the warning track and I bet you if you ask him – I know he won’t make excuses – but I bet you it was bouncing when you run like that,” Francona said of the defensive miscue.
Tomlin allowed three more singles the next inning and exited in favor of Dan Otero – 2.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (54 pitches, 37 strikes, 68.5%, two groundouts, three flyouts).
"Just the poor execution with the curve," said Tomlin. "I couldn’t really find that rhythm or find that groove with it. I’d throw a good one that would have the break you want, the shape you want, but it would end up three feet in front of the plate. You would throw a good four-seamer up and in on a guy and get a check-swing foul ball or a swing and miss, then you try to bury a curveball and you cast it a little bit and it just floats up there."
Chicago could not muster any sort of offense against the relief unit comprised of Otero, Nick Goody and Zach McAllister after Tomlin abruptly departed.
“[The bullpen] did a great job,” Francona said. “I thought when [Otero] stranded those two runners, I really thought we were going to win the game. As it showed, we had a chance. That’s a hard one to win when you’re doing that. They all chipped in and did a really good job.”
Living by the long ball
Edwin Encarnacion lifted a two-run homer to plate Brantley (double) and cut the opposing lead to two runs in the fourth frame. The line drive shot out of a cannon, barely clearing the 19-foot wall in left field…
“I feel a lot better,” said Encarnacion. “Everybody goes out there trying to give their very best and we try to do what we need to do to win, but sometimes things don’t work out.”
In a similar fashion, Carlos Santana scorched another screamer to the bleachers to trim the margin to one, 4-3.
“[Carlos and I] need that,” Encarnacion said. “We need to get hot, because we know that there’s a lot that we can do to help the team.”
The Tribe skipper seemed to agree, too.
“If those two get on a roll at the same time, that would be really good for us,” said Francona.
Response run makes up for baserunning blunders
Bryan Shaw surrendered a sacrifice fly to Kevan Smith before Leury Garcia attempted a suicide squeeze on what shaped out to be a 5-6 double play, one of six different situations in which the White Sox ran themselves out of a rally with poor baserunning.
"They ran into three or four outs when I was out there," Tomlin said. "That just kind of speaks to what we’ve been a part of the last couple of years. We play defense, we’re going to do the little things to make us good. There’s a bunch of heads-up plays going on, they’re just trying to take extra bases, be aggressive. The guys just tried to make the play. If it wasn’t made, those guys are running."
Central Division update
The Royals (27-34) defeated the Padres, the Twins (32-26) edged past the Giants and the Tigers (29-32) fell to the Red Sox, 11-3.
The two teams wrap up the weekend set on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. from Progressive Field.
RHP Carlos Carrasco’s (5-3, 3.36) recent stretch has yielded a mixed bag of results, allowing four or more runs in two of his last three starts. Chicago is slashing .265/.297/.475 against the 30-year-old right-hander.
LHP Jose Quintana (2-7, 5.30) pitched 5.1 innings of one-run ball in a winning effort last Tuesday as he looks to right the ship after a rough beginning to the season. The Colombian native has not earned a win since May 2 at Kansas City.