Tribe improves to 23-19
Raise your hand if you bet on Josh Tomlin out-pitching Chris Sale. Anyone? How about the Tribe dominating the Cy Young candidate and knocking him out in the 4th inning? Yeah, didn't think so. Tonight was a pleasantly unpredictable affair, reminiscent of the Reds series in that the Indians did almost everything right and the opposition did almost everything wrong.
Chris Sale came into this game seeking his tenth win of the season. It was a big deal. Even ESPN was tweeting about it. And it started out just like most of us suspected it to. Despite a Francisco Lindor single in the first, Sale struck out two and looked sharp. Josh Tomlin also got to work quickly, giving up a long home to Adam Eaton on the second pitch he threw. Sale breezed through the 2nd, and Tomlin struggled but didn't give up any more runs. But something funny happened starting around the third inning. The Indians decided that they weren't going to take any crap from a dude that looks like a pale, off-brand Gumby. Tomlin, following suit, decided he was going to make quick work of White Sox hitters so his offense could spend more time beating up Sale.
After Sale got two quick outs in the third, the Tribe's patient approach began to yield results. Jose Ramirez worked a walk, and Frankie Lindor followed with his second of four singles on the night. What followed was perhaps the most surprising event in a game full of surprising events - Mike Napoli tripled, and slid into third with the grace of a wounded buffalo:
The shenanigans continued after Nap's two RBI's. Juan Uribe - who karma has finally, graciously granted the ability to do annoying things on behalf of the Indians - floated a liner over a leaping Brett Lawrie after an at-bat wherein he fouled off five pitches.
Up 3-1, the Little Cowboy went to work. Over the next six innings, Tomlin worked quickly and efficiently, looking sharp and painting the corners with aplomb. The only time he really ran into trouble was in the 4th, when back-to-back doubles by Jose Abreu and Brett Lawrie brought the Sox to within four runs and put a runner in scoring position with just one out. But when Avasail Garcia smacked a grounder to Lindor in the next at-bat, Lindor made the heads-up play to catch Lawrie in a rundown headed toward third. Like a dummy, Garcia tried to take advantage of the rundown by taking a wide turn around first, only to be picked off trying to scurry back to the bag. Tomlin never looked back after that inning, finishing the game with eight solid innings, six K's, and just one walk.
One could surmise that the Sox' baserunning follies were an act of sympathy, an attempt to take the focus off Sale's dumpster fire of an outing. After giving up three runs with two outs in the 3rd, Sale took a Napoli-esque dive dirctly into trouble in the 4th by giving up a leadoff homer to Chris Gimenez. Two walks, a wild pitch (allowing
Jose Ramirez Rajai Davis to go 1st-to-3rd), and a third Lindor single later, Sale was out of the game. So not only did the Indians hand Sale his first loss of the season, they did it n dominant style. All six runs were charged to the Sox ace, though the sixth run came from a sac fly off of Zack Putnam.
After dropping three in a row, the Tribe has now won two straight and sit just
2.5 1.5 games behind the White Sox for 1st place in the AL Central. They can cut that down further with a series win tomorrow, and it'd be in their best interest. The Kansas City Royals seem to finally be heating up.