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Worth the Wait: Indians wait 4.5 hours, then throttle Chris Sale and the White Sox 7-1

The Indians won their twelfth straight against the White Sox and are now on the cusp of a wild card spot.

John Gress

September 15, 2013

Indians 7, White Sox 1

This game was supposed to begin a bit after 2 PM today. Well, I'm writing this seven hours later, and that's because the game didn't start until 6:30 thanks to a rather large system of rain. Between the scheduled and actual start time, just about everything fell the Indians' way, whether it was Jeremy Guthrie giving up an eighth-inning home run to Alex Avila after the Royals tied the game, or the Twins mounting a furious comeback against Joel Peralta and the Rays, or the Athletics pulling off a sweep of the Rangers in Texas. And as type this, the Yankees are on the verge of being swept in Boston. The only "bad" news of the day was Baltimore winning in Toronto.

But all that good news would have been for nought had the Indians not taken care of business. Going into this game, they had rolled off an incredible eleven straight wins against Chicago, including two four-game sweeps. A win tonight would give the Indians a third four-game sweep this year, something that hadn't happened since the Dodgers did it against the expansion-era Mets in the early 60s. It's hard to win that many straight games against one team, no matter how bad they are because of the nature of the sport, but somehow the Indians have done it despite having one game started by Trevor Bauer, and despite have to play four games in three days in a series, and despite trailing going into the ninth inning in one game, and many other circumstances that normally would broken up that winning streak. But somehow it's continued.

Today the matchup didn't seem to favor the Indians. Zach McAllister, who has really struggled of late, started for the Indians, while Chris Sale, one of baseball's best starters, got the call for the White Sox. And not that, Terry Francona used the Sale start as an opportunity to sit his best left-handed hitters. Matt Carson started for Michael Bourn, Jose Ramirez started for Jason Kipnis, and Ryan Raburn started for Michael Brantley. You could certainly understand the Raburn-for-Brantley swap, but the other two smacked of a Spring Training split-squad game. Francona of course had a very good reason for sitting Kipnis and Bourn - the Indians are in the midst of a long stretch of consecutive games - but still, the lineup looked as though they were punting the game.

Well, reality was not interested in what was on paper, as not only did Zach McAllister have one of his better outings, the Indians throttled Chris Sale, with Matt Carson(!) one of the key participants in the throttling. It was Carson's single that got the Indians on the board in the second, and Carson's home run in the fifth gave the Indians a 2-0 lead. And in the sixth inning, the Indians broke it open with four runs, including a Nick Swisher solo homer and an Asdrubal Cabrera three-run shot that removed all doubt. Swisher would later add another home run, and in doing so reached the 20 home run mark for the ninth consecutive season. Swisher has been one of the Indians' best hitters in the month of September, and although Asdrubal Cabrera's average still isn't great, he's hitting a lot of home runs of late.

If you could throw out Chris Sale's results against the Indians, he'd win the AL Cy Young going away. Including tonight, he's given up 22 runs in 23 innings against the Indians. Against the rest of baseball, he's given up 47 runs in 177.1 innings. I'm hard-pressed to explain why that is. The Indians don't have that good of an offense, especially of late. Perhaps they've picked up on something that no one else has, or that first good outing has led to a general confident feeling while facing him that other clubs haven't captured. Whatever the case, I'm glad the Indians have been the exception.

And because they took care of business this weekend, the Indians find themselves on the cusp of overtaking both the Rays and Rangers. Because the Rays and Rangers start a series tomorrow, the Indians  are guaranteed to have the second wild card spot on Tuesday morning if the win tomorrow.

It seems so long ago that the Indians were teetering on the edge of irrelevance after the Detroit series. The Indians were 3.5 games behind the Rays and 7.0 games behind the Rangers. Now they're very much a relevant club, and if they have another good two weeks, they'll be playing on Wednesday, October 2.

AL Games of Interest

  • Baltimore (-2.0) 3, Toronto 1 - Final
  • Detroit 3, Kansas City (-3.0) 2 - Final
  • Minnesota 6, Rays (+0.5) 4 - Final
  • Oakland 5, Texas (+0.5) 1 - Final
  • Boston 7, New York (-2.0) 1 - 7th Inning

American League Wild Card Standings

Tampa Bay 81 67 .547 0 Lost 1
Texas 81 67 .547 0 Lost 6
Cleveland 81 68 .543 0.5 Won 4
Baltimore 79 70 .530 2.5 Won 1
New York 79 70 .530 2.5 Lost 2
Kansas City 78 71 .523 3.5 Lost 1

(updated 9.15.2013 at 10:58 PM EDT)

Source: FanGraphs

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