CHICAGO: As usual, there was no need to announce the winner of the Indians-Chicago White Sox game; the score was the only fact in doubt.
Naturally, the Tribe came out on top, 8-1, beating the denizens of U.S. Cellular Field for the 11th time in a row and 14th time in 16 games this season.
Will the White Sox ever beat the Indians? Their best chance might be today, when staff ace Chris Sale takes the mound. Of course, the Sox still have to score runs, probably more than one.
Manager Terry Francona dismissed the notion that the Sox are the Tribe’s patsies.
“I didn’t even think about that,” he said. “Right now, we have to go in and prepare for Sale and it won’t matter [that the Indians have dominated]. Detroit has kind of done that to us.”
Lots of media folks took note that the schedule down the stretch favored the Tribe in its quest for a wild-card berth among the list of contenders, including the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals.
It’s one thing to check off prospective wins on a fold-out schedule; it’s another to actually triumph on the field. But the Indians are beating up the teams they are supposed to be beat up, none moreso than the Sox, who have lost the first three games of the four-game series.
Fortunately for the Indians, they have two more games to play against the White Sox at Progressive Field, Sept. 24 and 25.
But one thing at a time, or one game at a time, as Francona would say.
It took one bad inning for the Sox to lose the game, and there was no way to compensate for their pitching shortcomings, thanks to another praiseworthy performance by Ubaldo Jimenez.
With staff ace Justin Masterson out with a strained oblique, it’s important for Jimenez to pick up part of the burden.
“I think every pitcher in this clubhouse has to think that way,” he said. “I come to the stadium every day knowing that everything counts. I just want to go out and compete and give my team a chance to win.”
Jimenez (12-9, 3.49 ERA) delivered 8⅓ strong innings, giving up one run, eight hits, and one walk, and striking out eight. How good has he been lately?
Good would be an understatement. His consecutive scoreless inning streak was finally stopped at 25, dating to the fourth inning of his start against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 29.
“Of course, I knew about the streak,” Jimenez said. “I would have liked to keep it going, but the main thing is that my team won the game.”
Only three runners reached second against Jimenez. The first time came in the third inning when Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien singled with nobody out.
“I lost my mechanics a little bit, but I got it back together,” Jimenez said.
With two out in the seventh, Phegley lifted a routine fly ball down the left-field line but got a double out of it, because the outfield played him to pull. He did not get to third.
The third was Avisail Garcia, who advanced to second on Conor Gillaspie’s infield hit with one out in the ninth and scored on Phegley’s sacrifice fly off Chen-Chang Lee.
Putting together a big inning against the Sox has become almost routine for the Indians, who scored five times in the fourth off Andre Rienzo to put the game away.
“We’re a better team when we get contributions from everybody,” Francona said, and that’s what happened in the Tribe’s big fourth-inning rally.
Carlos Santana started it with a leadoff single, and Asdrubal Cabrera made it 2-0 by hitting his 13th home run of the season with one out.
Jason Giambi followed with a walk, Yan Gomes singled, and Lonnie Chisenhall launched a drive that landed over the wall in right for a three-run homer, his 10th of the season.
With Michael Bourn on first and two out, Jason Kipnis hit a drive to the center-field fence, but Alejandro De Aza made a leaping catch, picking it out of the air to prevent the third home run of the inning.
Santana drove in two runs in the sixth with a single, and Ryan Raburn drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.