The Indians looked to have a caught a break Saturday afternoon when White Sox starting pitcher Scott Carroll exited the game with low back stiffness after five shutout innings.
But even with the 29-year-old rookie out of action early and the inconsistent White Sox bullpen taking over, the struggling Indians offense failed to produce a clutch hit with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning in a 6-2 loss.
“We had the opportunity,” Indians centerfielder Michael Brantley said. “But this is baseball. You’re not always going to capitalize.”
Carroll went on to earn the win to improve to 4-5, once again holding the Indians without an earned run for the third time in as many appearances this season.
“He kept the ball down and kept them in the game by working fast and throwing good pitches down in the zone,” Brantley said.
Oddly enough, Carroll was the second White Sox player to leave the game with back stiffness at Progressive Field. In the fourth, shortstop Alexei Ramirez led off with a bunt single, but wrenched his back on the swing. Reserve Moises Sierra entered the game to pinch run for Ramirez, but wasn’t on the base paths long.
Recently-selected All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu deposited Zach McAllister's first pitch to him in the inning into the visitor’s bullpen in right field - his league-leading 29th home run of the season. Not only does Abeu sit one homer shy of reaching 30 with a game to go before the All-Star break, he picked up his 72nd and 73rd RBI and 51st extra-base hit. All this, despite the Cuban defector having missed three weeks with an ankle injury suffered in mid May.
In his first start since being placed on the diasbaled list May 21, McAllister (3-5) cruised though the first two innings before allowing his first base runner on a third-inning leadoff walk. He gave the Tribe seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two to take the loss.
“I thought I got into the groove today but made a couple bad pitches that hurt me,” McAllister said. “…My first at-bat against (Abreu), I was able to make some good pitches against him down and away and made him roll over. The next (at-bat), he got kind of an uh-oh breaking ball down the middle and did some damage with it.”
McAllister isn’t the only Tribe hurler to get beat by Abreu. Indians pitchers have helped Abreu pad his stats as he’s racked up seven hits against the staff this season – five of them home runs.
White Sox reliever Zach Putnam, a former fifth-round draft pick by the Indians, followed Carroll’s effort with a scoreless sixth inning before the right-hander ran into a jam in the seventh.
Lonnie Chisenhallled off with a single, Yan Gomes hit a sinking liner to left field that was orginally called an out by what would have been a great catch by Dayan Viciedo. But the Tribe challenged the play and after a 1:58 delay, the call was overturned when slow-motion replays showed Vidiedo trapped the ball.
Just like they did in Friday’s night victory over the White Sox, the Tribe took advantage of an extra out thanks to the reversed call, as David Murphy followed with a hit a blooper to shallow right field to load the bases with one out. With Putnam’s outing done, right-hander Javy Guerra was summed from the White Sox bullpen looking to preserve his club’s 3-0 advantage.
But the Indians plated their first run of afternoon via a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Jason Kipnis – also the second consecutive game the Tribe worked a RBI walk against Chicago. However, Guerra rebounded to get Asdrubal Cabrera to strike out swinging to end the threat.
Brantley pulled the Indians to within a run, 3-2, after launching his team-leading 15th home run by leading off the eighth inning with the first homer allowed this season by left-handed pitcher Eric Surkamp.
Former starter-turned-releiver Austin Adams took the mound in his major league debut for the Indians to start the ninth inning. But the brief appearance wasn’t the kind of memory the hard-throwing right-hander would have liked.
“What I didn’t want to do is let him go until next week without pitching,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of summoning Adams in a one-run game late, noting the bottom of the order was due up in an inning without base runners to worry about. “It didn’t go very well.”
With the Tribe having clawed to within a run at 3-2, Adams served up a single and back-to-back doubles that resulted in three insurance runs in a mere span of four batters - including a Gordon Beckham RBI double that snapped the second baseman’s 1-for-32 batting slump.
“I was a little nervous, a little amped up, a little excited,” Adams admitted. “I was a little bit of everything. (It was my) first time getting a taste of it and the results weren’t there... I didn’t leave the best impression, but can only get better.”