An effective start from Justin Masterson kept the Tribe in the game and an eighth-inning comeback sent the teams to extra innings, but the Indians (17-12) ended up losing to the White Sox (14-17), 5-3, in the 10th inning Tuesday night.
Chicago got off to a quick lead in the first. Gordon Beckham reached on a one-out single, and Adam Dunn connected off of Justin Masterson for a double. Beckham came home on Paul Konerko‘s groundout, while A.J. Pierzynski plated Dunn with an RBI single to make it a 2-0 game before Cleveland’s hitters picked up a bat.
From then on, Masterson and Chicago starter John Danks combined to keep both teams off the board until the seventh inning. The White Sox loaded the bases with one out against Dan Wheeler; that he managed to hold them to one run (Alejandro De Aza scored on Pierzynski’s groundout) was commendable, but Chicago’s lead grew to 3-0.
But the Indians didn’t give up. Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan led off the eighth with back-to-back singles to chase Danks from the game and Johnny Damon reached on an error to load the bases with nobody out; Kotchman then scored on Jason Kipnis‘ groundout to put the Tribe on the board. Asdrubal Cabrera worked a walk off newly minted White Sox closer Chris Sale to reload the bases before Carlos Santana‘s two-run single scored Hannahan and Damon. The Indians could not capitalize on the two-on, one-out situation—Shelley Duncan struck out and Shin-Soo Choo flied out to end the inning—but they stayed alive by tying the score, 3-3.
Neither team scored in the ninth (Nick Hagadone struck out the side in the top half), but Alex Rios connected off Tribe closer Chris Perez for an RBI triple in the top of the 10th before coming home himself on Alexei Ramirez‘ fielder’s choice. Addison Reed pitched a perfect ninth to give Chicago a hard-fought 9-3 victory.
The Good: Seems like this team never fails to come through in the clutch. Chris Sale had dominated the Indians’ lineup as a starter, and it stood to reason that he would only improve out of the bullpen. But Cleveland managed to string together a rally to stay in the game. Carlos Santana’s two-run single was without a doubt one of the most clutch hits of the year.
Shelley Duncan also gets a shout-out for his incredible 14-pitch at-bat in the second inning. And it was great to see Nick Hagadone strike out the side against the top of the White Sox’ batting order. That kid can pitch.
The Bad: I know I’m in the minority here, but Justin Masterson did not seem to have anywhere near his best stuff Tuesday night. Yes, he held the White Sox to two runs on six hits in six innings, good enough for a quality start. But he walked an alarming five batters while getting only three strikeouts against a fairly swing-happy Chicago lineup. Control has been Masterson’s biggest problem this year, and while the White Sox didn’t capitalize on the free passes, his outing did nothing to alleviate that concern.
Speaking of which, John Danks wasn’t quite himself either—he’s really struggled this year, and he got only one strikeout Tuesday—but the Indians’ offense couldn’t touch him for seven innings. Would have been nice to see the Tribe tee off against him.
The “Huh?”: With one out in the second inning and a 1-0 count on Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana tried to steal second base and was thrown out by a mile. It wasn’t quite clear whether he broke for second after Tyler Flowers didn’t catch Danks’ offering cleanly or if he just got a terrible jump on the pitch; either way, sending a runner as slow as Santana is generally a pretty bad idea.
Interesting Tidbit: If it seems to you that Alejando De Aza has played ridiculously well against the Indians this year…well, you’d be right. After collecting two hits Tuesday night, De Aza is now hitting .394/.474/.667 with two home runs, five RBI and 10 runs scored in eight games against the Tribe in 2012. He has a meager .233/.316/.372 line with one home run, four RBI, and 14 runs scored in 23 games against everybody else.