CHICAGO: Someone — maybe the mayor of Chicago — needs to invoke the mercy rule for White Sox fans.
At least for the rest of this season, and maybe longer, no White Sox games should be permitted to be broadcast on radio or television, and the gates of U.S. Cellular Field should be padlocked before any other unsuspecting customers try to enter.
The Indians seem to bring out the worst in the White Sox, and that’s pretty bad. The 14-3 Tribe win Thursday night was No. 12 of the season against the South Siders, who have only beaten their American League Central Division rivals twice.
And it gets worse. By losing their ninth in a row against the Indians, the Sox established a franchise record. Obviously, the Tribe isn’t complaining.
Starter John Danks held the Indians to four runs after five batters had come to the plate, and it didn’t get any closer.
Nick Swisher, the second batter of the first inning, homered for the first run. Jason Kipnis followed with a single and Carlos Santana walked to set the stage for Ryan Raburn’s 16th home run of the season that brought home three more runs.
Raburn? Of course, Raburn. When he plays, the Tribe offense tends to come alive. He hadn’t played for a few days because the Indians were facing right-handed starting pitchers. Danks throws from the left side, and so do Hector Santiago and Chris Sale, who will start Friday and Sunday.
Even though Raburn played only five innings, he produced a double and single, in addition to the home run. He also walked, scored two runs and drove in five.
“We said coming into the series that Raburn would play a big part because we’re going to face three lefties,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He not only gets his, but he gives us a lot of production for a guy that plays maybe half the year or not even that.”
Raburn, who is 29 for 85 against left-handed pitching, has appeared in 73 of 146 games this season.
In his career, Raburn has hit 17 of his 70 homers and driven in 66 of his 267 RBI against the White Sox.
“He’s maintained his swing all year,” Francona said. “It’s been pretty rare when he did not have his timing or not have his balance.
“He’s been really consistent with it, and as a bench player, that’s not the easiest thing to do.”
The Tribe’s big inning was the fifth, which featured a seven-run rally. Swisher and Raburn each delivered two-run singles, but that wasn’t what made the inning remarkable.
Charlie Leesman started the fifth in relief of Danks and faced seven batters. Three got hits, four walked. Oh yes, Leesman did not retire a batter and was charged with all seven runs.
During the inning, umpires stopped the game for 17 minutes while it rained. The delay did not serve to give Leesman a second wind.
Including the final two batters in the fourth inning, 11 consecutive Indians reached base before Dylan Axelrod got the first out of the fifth.
After that, Tribe batsmen mostly swung at first and second pitches, maybe so as not to further embarrass the White Sox. Francona began using his bench in the fifth and by the sixth, the Indians’ lineup was made up of five players who didn’t start the game.
The only starter that did not hit safely was Mike Aviles, but he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and scored a run after drawing a walk.
If their horrid pitching didn’t set baseball back a couple of decades, the Sox also committed three errors and misplayed at least two fly balls into hits.
Corey Kluber started for the Tribe and pulled a five and fly for the win. He was less than sharp, but it hardly mattered that he gave up two runs, six hits and a walk. That was more than sufficient, and Francona was able to keep his pitch count to 87, possibly giving him a little edge down the stretch.
After spending the season recuperating from elbow reconstruction surgery, Josh Tomlin made his first appearance of 2013. He gave up two hits but nothing else in two innings, and for part of his outing, he had to pitch through heavy rains.
The race for the second wild-card spot changed little. The Tampa Bay Rays still lead with a 79-66 record with the New York Yankees one game back. The Indians trail the Rays by 1½ games, and the Baltimore Orioles are 2½ games behind. The Kansas City Royals, who didn’t play, fell 2½ games behind.
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.