Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Indians have won six straight games. Unfortunately, those six straight wins have coincided with four straight wins by the Detroit Tigers meaning that the Indians have been unable to gain any real ground in the AL Central race. That’s certainly a buzz kill.
The Indians defeated the White Sox for the second straight night last night by a score of 7-4. No doubt, the Tribe was aided by the rampant trade rumors surrounding Chicago’s scheduled starter Jake Peavy. The rumors had gained so much steam that it became inevitable that Peavy would be traded before the night was over and as a result he was scratched by mid-afternoon.
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Taking Peavy’s place on the mound for the White Sox was Andre Rienzo making his Major League debut. He also became the first Brazilian born player to ever pitch in a Major League game. He performed well. Over the course of seven strong innings of work, Rienzo allowed only three runs on five hits and three walks. He also struck out six. Unfortunately for him, he did not factor into the decision.
As for the Indians, they called upon Scott Kazmir. Kazmir, if you may recall, has been fantastic over the course of the past month and a half. He has really found his way after struggling for much of the early part of the season following a sensational Spring. However, last night was a bit of a regression as Kazmir allowed four runs on nine hits. It was his first time allowing more than three runs in a game since June 15th.
The White Sox got out to an early 3-0 lead after scoring runs in the top of the first and second innings. In the first, Adam Dunn delivered a two run double to deep center field. Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios both scored to make it 2-0. Then in the second, Gordon Beckham scored when Josh Phegley singled to center.
The Indians came roaring back in the bottom half of the fifth. Yan Gomes, the other Brazilian playing Major League Baseball, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Showing the utmost patience, Gomes was able to draw a walk to push Michael Brantley across the plate to make it 3-1. The very next batter, Michael Bourn, stepped to the plate looking to make some noise. On the first pitch of the at bat, Bourn sent a sharp grounder to first. Adam Dunn snared it and fired to second base to get the force out. Alexei Ramirez tried to turn two in what could only be described as a poor decision. As Rienzo ran over to cover first, Bourn inadvertently spiked him in the back of the ankle, causing him to roll over in pain and allow Chisenhall to come around to score from second making it 3-3.
The White Sox took the lead back the following inning when Dayan Viciedo singled up the middle to scored Paul Konerko, who had led off the inning with an infield single. The RBI also closed the book on Kazmir for the evening.
From that point forward it was all Indians, all the time. The bullpen never faltered, providing four innings of scoreless relief work. The offense also broke things open in the bottom of the eighth. The scored four runs in the inning thanks largely to a two RBI single from Ryan Raburn, who came on to pinch hit for Jason Giambi, and a two RBI double from Yan Gomes. By the time the inning was over, the Indians had staked themselves to a rather comfortable 7-4 lead. Chris Perez then came on in the ninth to earn his 15th save of the season.
The Good: Yan Gomes had himself a day. He went 2 for 3 and knocked in three runs. It was more success for a player that has made it a regular habit of coming up big when given the opportunity this season.
The Bad: Scott Kazmir had a disappointing performance for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t an implosion, so it’s hard to call it a bad start, but it was more disappointing than anything else.
The “Huh?”: The Indians got a bit of a gift in the bottom of the fifth. Carlos Santana hit what should have been a for sure double play. Unfortunately for Alexei Ramirez, the second base umpire was in the perfect position to shield him from the ball. As a result, Ramirez had no time to react to the ball and bumbled what should have been an easy ground ball to turn. Rather than having two outs with no one on, it was then two on with no out and helped lead to the Indians three run fifth to tie the game.