The White Sox blasted three home runs, Jeanmar Gomez gave up six runs, and Jose Quintana earned the win in his first MLB start as the Indians dropped the first game of a three-game series in Chicago, 9-3. The loss drops the Tribe to 26-19 on the year, but they remain 2.5 games ahead of Chicago for first place in the AL Central.
The Indians were somewhat short-staffed Friday night. Jack Hannahan has not played since May 13th and Travis Hafner is back in Cleveland receiving therapy for a sore knee. Prior to the game the Indians sent Zach McAllister to Columbus and recalled shortstop Juan Diaz from the minors; In the seventh inning Diaz made his major league debut, replacing Asdrubal Cabrera who left the game due to a tight hamstring. Carlos Santana departed in the eighth inning after taking an Alex Rios foul ball off his mask.
Meanwhile, the White Sox sent the recently recalled Jose Quintana to the hill to take the place of John Danks, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain. Quintana had made his lone big league appearance versus the Indians on May 7th, when he held the Indians scoreless on only one hit in 5.1 innings in an 8-6 White Sox loss.
The Indians beat that hit total after just two batters Friday as Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double and Jason Kipnis followed with a single to put runners at first and third with one out. After Kipnis stole second base to eliminate the double-play possibility, Santana sent a grounder to third to drive in Choo and give the Indians an early 1-0 lead.
From the moment Jeanmar Gomez took the mound it was obvious from his lack of control and tempo that he wasn’t the sharp pitcher we have seen on the mound for most of this year. He immediately issued a leadoff walk to Alejandro De Aza and gave up a two-run homer to Adam Dunn to give Chicago a 2-1 lead. The White Sox extended their lead to 3-1 win the bottom of the third on a solo homer by A.J. Pierzynski.
The Indians cut the deficit to 3-2 in the top of the third on a leadoff double by Choo, who moved to third on a Kipnis sacrifice fly and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Cabrera. They had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the top of the sixth when, with one out, Choo and Kipnis drew back-to-back walks and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, respectively. Cabrera battled Quintana but popped up in foul territory on the 10th pitch of the at-bat and Santana grounded out to third to end the inning.
Gomez entered the bottom of the sixth inning having retired eight of the last 10 batters he had faced and got two quick outs, but issued back-to-back walks to A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo. Many assumed that Gomez’ evening was finished but Manny Acta elected to allow Gomez to face Alexei Ramirez, who lined a single to left field on a 3-2 count to score Pierzynski and put the White Sox up 4-2. Gomez’ night was over and he was replaced by Jairo Asencio, who gave up a walk to Orlando Hudson and a two-run single to De Aza to put Chicago up 6-2.
The White Sox against rallied for three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Alex Rios singled to Jose Lopez and came around to score as a sinking liner off the bat of Pierzynski evaded a diving Aaron Cunningham and turned into a triple. Pierzynski came in to score on a two-run homer by Viciedo to put the Chicago ahead, 9-2.
The Indians added another run in the top of the ninth when Shelley Duncan homered off Zach Stewart for his first homer since May 1 (against White Sox reliever Will Ohman), but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Tribe fell, 9-3.
The Good: Shin Soo-Choo was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. In 11 games as the Indians’ leadoff hitter, he has hit .372 (16-for-43) with six doubles and two home runs. Also, Chicago native Jason Kipnis went 2-for-3 on the evening and is now hitting .476 (10-for-21) at U.S. Cellular.
The Bad: The Indians’ injury list is growing. Jack Hannahan hasn’t played since May 13, Travis Hafner is out for the weekend, Asdrubal Cabrera left the game in the seventh inning with a sore hamstring, and Carlos Santana left after taking a foul ball off the mask in the eighth. Also, Gomez didn’t have his best stuff and Asencio gave up three runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks in his 1.1 innings of work.
The “Huh?”: With Jeanmar Gomez fatigued and issuing back-to-back walks in the bottom of the sixth inning (107 pitches) why did Manny Acta elect to stick with Gomez rather than go to the bullpen?
Interesting Tidbit: Shelley Duncan stole just his second base of his career in the second inning. The only other stolen base came on September 29, 2010 in the second game of a doubleheader versus the Tigers off pitcher Ryan Perry and catcher Gerald Laird.