Corey Kluber turned in a solid start and the Indians actually managed to score some runs against a left-handed pitcher Tuesday afternoon as Cleveland beat Francisco Liriano and the White Sox, 4-3, to even the three-game series in Chicago at one game apiece.
The first third of the game looked like it would be a pitcher’s duel in which Kluber had a slight edge over Liriano. Both teams threatened but neither scored in the first inning, but Russ Canzler put the Tribe on the board with a leadoff home run in the top of the second. Things remained fairly quiet for a while, and after three innings the Indians still held a 1-0 lead.
Cleveland added a cushion in the top of the fourth. Carlos Santana drew a leadoff walk, and Canzler smacked the first pitch he saw into center field for a double. A Matt LaPorta strikeout and a Brent Lillibridge walk loaded the bases with one out for Thomas Neal, who reached on an RBI fielder’s choice. Back-to-back RBI singles from Ezequiel Carrera and Shin-Soo Choo knocked Liriano out of the game in the fourth inning and gave the Tribe a commanding 4-0 lead.
The White Sox struck back in the bottom of the fifth as A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo led off the inning with back-to-back solo home runs to cut the deficit in half. That was it for the scoring from either side until the ninth when Paul Konerko greeted Chris Perez with a leadoff solo shot to make it a one-run game, but though Chicago got the winning run aboard Perez was able to shut the door as the Indians held on for a 4-3 win.
The Good: Let’s give it up for Corey Kluber. His peripherals were fairly underwhelming—only four strikeouts against three walks and two home runs—but he held Chicago to two runs on four hits in seven strong innings of work. I’ll take that outing any day.
Offensively the hero was Russ Canzler, who went 3-for-4 with a double and a home run. In general, the Indians scored four runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings against a left-handed starting pitcher, which is a huge accomplishment for this team.
The Bad: Chris Perez managed to get out of the ninth inning with the lead still intact, but he sure didn’t make it easy on himself. After giving up the home run to Konerko he got two outs, but then he walked Dan Johnson and Alexei Ramirez—the latter came after he initially was ahead 0-2. When you enter the game with a two-run lead and you end up putting the winning run on base, it gives us fans heart palpitations.
The “Huh?”: Brent Lillibridge is hitting .190/.238/.276. Ezequiel Carrera is hitting .248/.284/.368. Thomas Neal raked to the tune of a .314/.400/.467 line in Triple-A this year. So why is Lillibrdge batting higher than Carrera and Neal in the Indians’ batting order?
Interesting Tidbit: It’s been more than three weeks since Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth inning. The last time was September 4 in Detroit.