So much for low-scoring games. Both teams’ bats came alive at Progressive Field Wednesday afternoon as the Chicago White Sox (3-2) bested the Cleveland Indians (1-4), 10-6 to score a sweep in the snow-shortened two-game series.
For the second game in a row the White Sox got on the board quickly as Justin Masterson struggled from the outset. Alejandro De Aza led off the game with a single, and moved up on when Brent Morel reached on a rare Jack Hannahan error on a sacrifice bunt attempt (though it might have been better described as just an infield hit). An Adam Dunn single, a Paul Konerko double, and a wild pitch later Chicago had scored three before Masterson recorded an out. A.J. Pierzynski‘s sacrifice fly gave the White Sox a 4-0 edge before the Indians got their first ups.
Cleveland struck back for a run in the bottom of first. Asdrubal Cabrera laced a one-out double off of John Danks and scored two batters later on a wild pitch. The score then remained unchanged for three innings until Travis Hafner took Danks deep on his first pitch of the fourth inning to make it 4-2 Chicago.
Chicago scored again in the top of the fifth. Morel reached on another error, this time by Casey Kotchman. Dunn’s base hit moved him over to third, and he came home on Konerko’s RBI single. But the Indians responded with a pair in the bottom of the fifth as Hafner’s two-run double drove in Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana to make it 5-4 White Sox.
The White Sox broke the game open in the sixth. Eight Chicago hitters came to the plate against Dan Wheeler and Rafael Perez, and both pitchers allowed home runs. Wheeler served up a meaty fastball to De Aza that he drove to center field for a two-run homer, and Perez hung a change-up to Pierzynski that landed in the right field stands. By the time the inning was over it was 10-4 Chicago.
Shelley Duncan took Will Ohman deep for a two-run homer in the seventh inning and Jeanmar Gomez and Jairo Asencio shut down the White Sox for the final three innings, but it wasn’t enough as the Tribe fell, 10-6.
The Good: The Indians blew a ton of opportunities to score—they stranded 11 baserunners—but anytime you score six runs in a game you’re doing something right offensively. In particular, Travis Hafner and Shelley Duncan combined to go 5-for-10 with two homers, a double, and five RBI. Overall, the solid hitting was a good sign to see for a team that entered the game averaging just 2.7 runs per nine innings.
Props are also due to Jeanmar Gomez, who thanks to Tuesday’s postponement and the Indians’ odd schedule made his season debut out of the bullpen Wednesday. He pitched two perfect innings, recording three strikeouts and inducing five swinging strikes, and those who made contact all grounded out. It was only two innings, but both the strikeouts and the groundouts were great signs.
The Bad: Justin Masterson. It wasn’t an awful outing, but he clearly didn’t have the lights-out stuff he showcased on Opening Day. Three earned runs in five innings isn’t terrible and he allowed only one walk, but that he got only two strikeouts was somewhat underwhelming after he racked up 10 punchouts last week.
The other big thing: the attendance. Not even 10,000 people made it out to the ballpark Wednesday. Seriously, Cleveland? And you wonder why they call this a small market.
The “Huh?”: I don’t claim to know all that factors that go into MLB scheduling, and there’s probably a reason why I’m not in charge of it. But Wednesday’s game was over by 3:15 and both teams have off-days today, so why not make up Tuesday’s game by playing a doubleheader? Makes more sense to do it now when both teams are in town and have off-days right after than to squeeze it in later in the year when both clubs are exhausted from the stretch run.
Interesting Tidbit: The Indians’ lineup in Game No. 5 was the same as it was in Game Nos. 1, 2, and 3. Had Manny Acta not given four of his starters the day off Monday, this would have been the first time Cleveland’s batting order had stayed the same for the first five games of the season since 1977. That lineup: Rick Manning, Duane Kuiper, Jim Norris, Rico Carty, Andre Thornton, Bill Melton, Buddy Bell, Ray Fosse, Frank Duffy.