The Cleveland Guardians made quick work of the White Sox’ designs on a sweep Tuesday, coming from behind for a 10-7 victory in 11 innings in the first of a three-game series and dropping the Sox five games out of first place with 14 left to play.
The relentless Guardians (81-76) clinched the season series and tiebreaker and won for the 12th time in 16 extra-inning games by scoring five runs in the 11th inning. The Sox scored two in the 11th on AJ Pollock’s two-run homer, his 1,000th career but a meaningless consolation in a loss all but ending the Sox’ chances for a third consecutive postseason.
“I mean, we know where we’re at,” Pollock said. “We know the situation. The goal was to win the first game.”
Myles Straw had a tiebreaking two-run double in the 11th against Jake Diekman, Steven Kwan (four hits) followed with an RBI single. Kwan scored on Jose Ramirez’s sacrifice fly, and a throwing error by catcher Seby Zavala allowed Amed Rosario to score the fifth run.
While the Sox have played better over in their stretch of 13 wins in 20 games since Cairo took over as acting manager, the error charged to Zavala was characteristic of the Sox’ defensive woes all season. Diekman didn’t hold Rosario, who got an easy break from second, and third baseman Yoan Moncada was 10 feet behind the base as Zavala’s accurate throw over the base skipped past him.
Pollock turned a slicing fly ball by Andres Gimenez in the second into a triple when he stumbled and fell near the left field line, moments before the Guardians got the first run on Austin Hedges’ sacrifice fly against Dylan Cease (six innings, one run).
“We had a bunch of stuff,” Pollock said. “I had a funky play in the beginning. Trying to make an aggressive play and got caught in a weird spot and it was probably a double and it ended up being a triple and the run that ended up scoring was a big run. A couple missed opportunities throughout the game. A couple defensive miscues. It was execution on our end for sure.”
Cleveland’s flame-throwing closer Emmanuel Clase (3-4) allowed a game-tying two-out single to Jose Abreu in the 10th, blowing just his fourth save in 40 chances, but he earned the win. Abreu’s hit was the last shining moment for an energized crowd of 23,242 that had lost it’s pep by the 11th as midnight closed in.
Josh Naylor’s RBI single and Oscar Gonzalez’ sacrifice fly pushed two runs across against Kendall Graveman in the 10th after the Guardians scored two in the seventh to erase a 3-1 deficit.
The Sox scored three in the sixth to tie it against Aaron Civale and Nick Sandlin. Eloy Jimenez singled in the first run and two runs scored when Pollock beat out a double play and shortstop Rosario’s throw skipped past first baseman Owen Miller.
But reliever Jimmy Lambert walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh, and both turned into runs, the first scoring on Kwan’s single and the second when Jose Ramirez beat out a ball hit to Andrus in the hole at shortstop for a single.
The Sox caught a break when Rosario made the third out trying to score from second after Andrus made a diving stop in the hole. Rosario appeared to beat Zavala’s sweeping tag but umpire Shane Livensparger called him safe and the Guardians had used their challenge.
Cease (2.13 ERA) was behind in the count to all but one batter in the first two innings, running up his pitch count, and needed 107 pitches to complete six. He struck out three, matching his season low.
“I feel like we were ready,” he said. “If I’m efficient maybe I go 7 or 8 and save some arms. I would say that’s as big of a reason as why we lost as anything.”
Cairo blamed himself for making “bad moves” sounding like a manager standing behind his players unnecessarily.
“I made a few moves I should not have made,” Cairo said. “Today was on me. Our players fight, they fight hard.”