The Chicago White Sox experienced heartbreak for the second night in a row against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Coming into the game, all eyes were on the starters. Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber got the ball for their respective teams in their second matchup of the season. Their first came on August 9th but neither pitcher earned a decision. Wednesday night’s contest was exactly what fans expected in that both pitchers were dominant aside from one blemish.
Giolito’s mistake came early in the bottom of the second. Carlos Santana reached the concourse on a fastball that missed its spot. His seventh home run of the season made it 1-0 Indians.
The Sox took advantage of a miscue in the top of the fourth. Jose Abreu grounded a ball that Jose Ramirez couldn’t handle at third. Eloy Jimenez followed with his 13th double of the season to put two on with nobody out. Edwin Encarnacion then grounded out to plate Abreu and tie the game at 1-1. Bieber took care of James McCann and Luis Robert to end the inning.
Later, in the bottom of the sixth, another run crossed the dish for the Tribe. Giolito issued a one-out walk to Ramirez and then gave up a double to Santana to put runners at second and third. Franmil Reyes drove home Ramirez with a sacrifice fly to center to swing the score Cleveland’s way again, 2-1. The Sox ace struck out Tyler Naquin to end the inning as he approached 120 pitches.
Fast forward to the top of the eighth. With James Karinchak now in for the Indians, the Sox tied the game back up. Yoan Moncada legged out a leadoff triple and was immediately driven home by an Abreu sacrifice fly to knot the game up at 2-2.
With the game locked at 2-2, Codi Heuer pitched the bottom of the eighth and handed things over to Gio Gonzalez for the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Jordan Luplow ended the game with one swing of the bat. It was just his second home run of the season, but it was a big one as it lifted Cleveland over the Sox 3-2 for their second walk-off bomb in as many games.
The highlight of the game was definitely the starting pitching matchup. Both hurlers had double-digit punch-outs and were challenged by high pitch counts. Strategically, both of these guys will be used in their club’s first playoff game on Tuesday. It was also nice to see Moncada break out a little bit with that triple. On the other hand, Luis Robert is slumping hard right now. He’ll likely get a day off here soon, if not today for the series finale.
This loss, though, swaps the White Sox and the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central. Minnesota has a half-game lead now with just three games to go for them. Chicago’s game in hand is on Thursday before both teams begin their final regular-season series. An important note is also that the Sox own the tiebreaker between over the Twins. This means that Minnesota would need to be ahead of them to actually win the division.
This series concludes tonight at 5:10 PM CT with the Sox sending Dallas Keuchel to the bump to battle Zach Plesac. Both of these hurlers have an earned run average hovering around 2.00, so expect to have another low-scoring affair as the Sox try to avoid losing five in a row.