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Thursday game recap: Indians rout White Sox in series opener

A Cleveland team scoring two touchdowns... Unheard of!

Jonathan Daniel

September 12, 2013

Indians 14, White Sox 3

Thursday night's game could hardly have gone better, as the lineup woke up in a big way against the White Sox, and a pair of pitchers in need of some work were able to get it. Josh Tomlin made his first appearance for the Indians since August 12 of last season, having undergone Tommy John surgery that month, and rehabbed his way through the minor leagues over the last couple months. He pitched two shutout innings, hitting 91 on the radar and working around a couple cheap base runners.Vinnie Pestano then came on for his second appearance since returning from a 2-month demotion. He walked the first hitter he faced, and gave up a couple hard hit balls, but also recording a pair of swinging strikeouts and looked at least a little better than in his previous outing.

The story though, was the offense. After scoring just 10 runs over their previous four games, the Tribe put up 14 this time out. It was their first visit to doubles figures since June 28, when they put up 19 in the opener of their last trip to Chicago. (Make more trips to Chicago!) 7 of those runs came in the 5th inning, when poor Charlie Leesman, who entered the inning with a 1.59 ERA (in only 11.1 innings), but saw it balloon to 7.15, as Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a home run, and the next six batters went: walk, walk, walk, single, single, walk, before he was mercifully pulled. Those last two runners came around to score, which made Leesman the first American League relief pitcher to be charged with 7 earned runs without recording a single out since Bob Kammeyer gave up 8 all the way back in 1979 (also against the Indians).

In addition to Cabrera's blast, Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn also homered, one of three hits for Raburn, who drove in five runs while playing for the first time in five days. Jason Kipnis reached base safely three times apiece, continuing his trend of playing tremendously in Chicago (his pseudo hometown) and Carlos Santana did the same (continuing his trend of getting on base a whole bunch). Even Drew Stubbs had 3 hits, surely a sign that the offense was firing on all cylinders. And if you don't find Tomlin's first appearance since 2012 exciting enough, Kelly Shoppach played in an Indians jersey for the first time since 2009 (going 0 for 2 after replacing Yan Gomes, who had two doubles... my god, I can't stop spitting out hitting highlights!).

If you want to pick a nit, you could point out that Corey Kluber didn't look great, striking out only two over five innings of work (including a long wait between his 4th and 5th frames, both because of all the runs the Tribe scored in the 5th, and a 15-minute rain delay squeezed in there). On the other hand, he had some great-looking pitches (what might be calledvintage Kluber, if he hadn't sort of come from nowhere to pitch so well this year), and there was nothing about his start to convince me he can't round back into shape as he faces some fairly week lineups between now and the end of the regular season.

The Rays also won, so the Indians don't gain any ground on the second Wild Card spot, but the Rangers were off, so the Tribe is only 3.5 games back of the first Wild Card. They aren't likely to catch them, but crazier things have happened. The Yankees beat the Orioles again, so New York remains half a game ahead of the Indians, but Baltimore is now a game behind, tied with the Royals.

The offense will look to keep it going Friday afternoon, as Danny Salazar takes the mound for the Tribe. The Indians have now beaten the White Sox 9 straight times, which is their longest winning streak ever against Chicago (and they've been playing one another since 1901). It's vital that they take 3 of 4 in this series (or just sweep it), and this was a great way to start things off.

Game Graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Love that 5th inning flatline!

Roll Call:

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