The Indians battled both the White Sox and the Chicago weather on Sunday afternoon, but ultimately came away defeated on a 2-run walk-off homer by Alexei Ramirez in the bottom of the ninth inning. The 4-3 win for the White Sox also sealed a series victory for them, as they took three games out of four. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Tribe fans, to have victory stolen away like that. I'm writing this at 1:14 AM, and I'll soon be going to bed in a sour mood.
The game didn't get started until 3:25 ET due to a lengthy rain delay, but the weather didn't seem to bother Corey Kluber much, as he had his stuff working despite the conditions. Kluber was particularly successful inducing ground balls, and he used his off-speed pitches effectively too, often utilizing his breaking ball to get a strikeout when he needed it. He finished the day with 6 strikeouts, and would might have had more if the weather (which also prompted a 45-minute delay during the 4th inning) hadn't messed with his rhythm.
The grounds crew didn't help matters. Despite both teams being on the field ready to play after the 4th-inning delay, the field maintenance team decided to continue their on-field repairs a while longer, which left Kluber standing around for long periods of time. There was even some gamesmanship by White Sox skipper Robin Ventura, as he somehow persuaded the umpires to review a double by Dayan Viciedo in the bottom of the 2nd inning, a hit which was not close to being a home run. Thankfully the delay did not have Ventura's desired effect, as Kluber shook it off and struck out Alejandro De Aza on a beautiful curveball to end the inning.
Kluber pitched into the 8th inning,but departed after giving up a solo home run to Marcus Semien that put the White Sox ahead 2-1. He pitched a superb game and did a fantastic job by giving the bullpen a much-needed rest. Overall it was a very encouraging start by the 28 year-old right hander: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 1 HR, 2 ER, 6 SO, 0 BB.
White Sox starter Jose Quintana matched Kluber pitch-for-pitch during his 6 innings of work and kept the Tribe bats from breaking out; he limited the Indians to just 5 hits with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. The Indians made Quintana work, running up his pitch count to 121 pitches. The only damage Quintana surrendered was the Michael Brantley solo home run that opened the scoring in the top of the 4th inning. It was some hit by Dr Smooth, with that sweet crack off the bat; you just knew it was over the fence the second you heard it.
In the bottom of the 4th, Chicago scored on an Asdrubal Cabrera error to tie things up at 1-1, then Semien hit the go-ahead home run in the 8th to put the home side ahead 2-1 but the Indians weren't going to go quietly. In the top of the ninth and with Chicago looking to close things out, David Murphy singled home Michael Brantley with a fantastic piece of clutch hitting to tie the game at 2-2. With Yan Gomes moved over to third base after a Mike Aviles bunt, a wild pitch by Matt Lindstrom saw Gomes race home to make it 3-2 to the Tribe.
John Axford entered the game in the bottom of the 9th to close the game out, but got off to a bad start by walking Jordan Danks. Still, there was no need to panic, and Axford retired De Aza on a pop-up almost immediately. But then Alexei Ramirez stepped to the plate, Chicago's hottest hitter of late, he proceeded to show us why. Ramirez took Axford's pitch over the left field wall and that was it, game over. His two-run shot was a gut-punching way to lose what had become a very exciting game.
The Indians now go into their off-day with a 6-7 record, a 3-game series in Detroit looming.
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