The Tribe braved rain, fatigue, and a restricted bullpen Monday night as the Indians (17-11) followed up on their afternoon victory to take the second game of their day-night doubleheader with the White Sox (13-17), 3-2.
It took both teams quite some time to get on the board, as Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin and Chicago hurler Eric Stults combined to keep both clubs’ bats quiet for the first four innings. After previously threatening in the fourth, it was the White Sox who finally broke through, taking a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning as Brent Morel‘s groundout plated Dayan Viciedo.
The Indians responded with one of their trademark two-out rallies in the bottom of the inning. Lou Marson started things off with a walk before successfully stealing second in one of the ballsiest plays we’ve seen this season. Michael Brantley then drove Marson in with an RBI single (he moved to second on the throw) before coming home himself on Jason Kipnis‘ base hit to give the Tribe a 2-1 lead after five.
The score stood still for two hours as the game entered a rain delay with two on and one out in the top of the eighth. Once the weather cleared up, Alex Rios inaugurated the action with an RBI single to knot the game at 2-2 and put the go-ahead run 90 feet away from the plate. After a tense battle, Joe Smith was able to get Adam Dunn to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Indians then got to work quickly in the bottom of the eighth. Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana took advantage of Chicago’s “no-doubles” outfield defense to reach with bloop singles and put runners at the corners with nobody out. Shelley Duncan‘s RBI double gave the lead, and Tony Sipp closed it out to give the Tribe a 3-2 win and a doubleheader sweep.
The Good: The Indians needed Josh Tomlin to eat some innings, and he came through big time. He was at his best Monday, holding the White Sox to two runs on five hits across 7.1 strong innings. He allowed two walks while racking up a career-high eight strikeouts en route to what should have been his second win of the season.
It was generally a good night for clutch hitting, as Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, and Shelley Duncan all came up with big hits. Asdrubal Cabrera also had a pretty great game, going 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored—can’t ask for much better than that.
The Bad: Hard to complain about offense when the Indians scored 11 runs yesterday (they won 8-6 in the afternoon), but Cleveland hitters were held to two runs on four hits by a one-day call-up who came into Monday with an ERA of nearly 5.00. Would’ve been nice to see the Tribe tee off against him.
The “Huh?”: I understand wanting to give Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano the day off, but it was hard not to question Manny Acta’s decision to make them completely unavailable. When Joe Smith took the mound in the eighth inning (it was originally supposed to be Dan Wheeler before the rain set in), the game Leverage Index was 4.69—i.e., the situation was 369 percent more important than the average at-bat. That’s exactly the kind of spot in which Acta has been going to Pestano this year, and you want your best guy out there in a situation that big.
We saw a similar thing in the ninth as Acta let Tony Sipp protect the Tribe’s 3-2 lead for the final inning. While I in no way support the idea that teams should automatically go to their closers in save situations, it was hard to feel comfortable with the idea of sending a LOOGY with a 9.00 ERA out to protect a one-run lead.
Interesting Tidbit: Tomlin has now allowed two or more walks in three consecutive games, something that he had never done before in the majors. The last time he’d done it was August 2007, when he allowed eight free passes in his first three outings at High-A.