On a night when starting pitcher Danny Salazar lasted just two-thirds of an inning and surrendered four runs in the shortest outing of his career, the Cleveland Indians’ offense picked up their struggling teammate.
Led by two home runs from second baseman Jose Ramirez, the Indians (82-56) hammered out nine runs and worked their way to a 9-4 victory over the White Sox (54-83), a win that extended their season-best winning streak to 13 games.
The Indians' 13-game winning streak is the longest such run in Major League Baseball this season.
Coupled with the Minnesota Twins’ 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians dropped their “Magic Number” to clinch the American League Central Division down to 14. Currently, the Indians hold an 11-game edge over the second-place Twins in the standings.
The Indians got the offense rolling early with three runs in the top of the first inning.
Batting second in the lineup, left fielder Austin Jackson belted a solo home run to center field, and Ramirez, who was named the AL Player of the Week hours before the start of Tuesday’s game, followed with a homer of his own into the seats in left field off of White Sox starter David Holmberg.
After the back-to-back home runs, the next five hitters reached base and the Indians were able to push another run across the plate. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion smashed an 0-2 pitch into left field for a single, and then, first baseman Carlos Santana and third baseman Yandy Diaz loaded the bases with consecutive walks. Right fielder Brandon Guyer drove in Encarnacion with a fielder’s choice to shortstop.
Although the Indians scored first, just as they had in each of their previous 12 victories, the White Sox scored four runs against Salazar in the bottom of the first inning.
Third baseman Yolmer Sanchez led off the game with a four-pitch walk, and later, stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error charged to Indians catcher Yan Gomes. Designated hitter Jose Abreu drove in Chicago’s first run of the game with a groundout to second base.
Clean-up hitter Avisail Garcia followed with a walk, and then, catcher Rob Brantly was hit by a pitch, which put two runners on for first baseman Matt Davidson. Despite being down in the count, 1-2, Davidson found a pitch he liked from Salazar and smashed it over the wall in center field for a three-run homer, which drove the Indians starter from the game.
While the White Sox took a one-run lead into the second inning, it did not stay that way for long, as Ramirez hit a game-tying solo home run to left-center field with two outs.
Then, in the top of the third inning, Santana led off with an infield single and moved over to second base on Diaz’s groundout to third. The Indians got a second runner on when Guyer was hit by a pitch. After a fielder’s choice from Gomes erased Santana at third base, center fielder Greg Allen rocketed a double down the left-field line and brought around both Guyer and Gomes for the go-ahead runs.
The Indians’ offense removed all doubt in the top of the ninth inning.
After Santana rocketed a single off the wall in left-center field and outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall drew a walk, Gomes crushed a belt-high pitch from Chris Beck into the seats in left field for his 11th round-tripper of the season.
Both Ramirez and Encarnacion went two for five, while Santana was two for three in the victory. Ramirez and Allen each drove in two runs, while Gomes brought in three with one swing of the bat. Three Indians, Guyer, shortstop Francisco Lindor and Santana, were hit by pitches in the win.
Over his two-thirds of an inning, Salazar allowed one hit, two walks and four earned runs. In relief, the Indians utilized seven pitchers out of the bullpen, who spread out nine hits and three walks over 8.1 innings of work.
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