Cleveland started off a four-game series with Chicago on the right foot Monday afternoon as the Indians (16-11) beat the White Sox (13-16), 8-6 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
The White Sox struck first against Tribe starter Zach McAllister, who was called up to make a spot start as Cleveland’s roster expanded to 26 players for the day (a new provision added as part of this winter’s MLBPA agreement). Alejandro De Aza hit a leadoff double on McAllister’s third offering of the game and moved to third on McAllister’s errant pickoff throw. He scored on Brent Lillibridge‘s sacrifice fly to give the White Sox a quick 1-0 lead.
The Indians roared back in the second. Travis Hafner took Chicago starter Philip Humber deep to lead off the inning. Carlos Santana followed Pronk’s blast with a double, and Shin-Soo Choo then singled and stole second. Michael Brantley‘s RBI single scored Santana and Casey Kotchman‘s fielder’s choice plated Choo to give the Tribe a 3-1 lead.
Chicago scored again in the top of the third—as De Aza stole second, Gordon Beckham came home from third on Carlos Santana’s throwing error—but Cleveland struck back for five runs in the bottom of the inning. Brantley and Kotchman ripped two-run doubles on back-to-back pitches, and after Humber was knocked out of the game Asdrubal Cabrera worked a bases loaded walk off Jose Quintana. By the time the inning was over, the Indians had sent 11 men to the plate and made it an 8-2 game.
The White Sox added two more in the fourth before Quintana, McAllister, and Jairo Asencio combined to keep both teams’ bats silenced over the next four innings. Chicago started to rally in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate with no one out, but Nick Hagadone was able to shut the door on a 8-6 Tribe victory.
The Good: Any time your team scores eight runs you’ve had a good day. Eight of the Tribe’s nine starters reached base safely Monday afternoon (everyone except Johnny Damon), and six—Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, and Jack Hannahan—got on base at least twice. The real hero was Pronk, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and a walk. He even managed to hit a triple off Humber in the sixth inning.
We also saw a good showing from Zach McAllister. He held the White Sox to two earned runs on six hits across six strong innings, and he racked up five strikeouts against just one walk. Not bad for a spot start.
The Bad: Nothing much to say here. The defense was a little sloppy in the early innings. Jairo Asencio’s ninth-inning meltdown was nerve-wracking, but that was after he’d already thrown two shutout innings.
The “Huh?”: It was a bit of a surprise to see Nick Hagadone out of the bullpen in the ninth inning instead of closer Chris Perez or even “relief ace” Vinnie Pestano. It wasn’t necessarily the wrong move, but given Manny Acta’s affinity for using Perez in save situations it was a bit surprising to see him hand the ball to someone else with an ‘S’ on the line.
Interesting Tidbit: Hafner’s sixth-inning triple was his first in almost five years. The last time he hit a triple was May 29, 2007…after he’d hit another one just four days earlier.