White Sox erupt for 10 runs, defeat Indians to take series
CLEVELAND — Melky Cabrera will be missed when he’s gone for the weekend to be with his wife as she gives birth to their daughter Friday.
“Melky, for me, is one of the premier hitters in baseball,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
“Premier” is high praise, to be sure, but there’s no doubt Cabrera is arguably the best all-around hitter on the Sox, and he showed Thursday how to step up to the plate when dedicating a game to a special cause. Cabrera singled in a five-run first inning against Josh Tomlin that paced the Sox to a 10-4 victory, and he also walked and scored in a two-run second and doubled in the fourth.
The victory, coming a night after left-hander Derek Holland dedicated six scoreless innings to his late grandmother, gave the Sox two out of three from the defending American League champions at Progressive Field, where they’re 14-25 since 2013. They’ll take a 4-4 record into their weekend road series against the Twins, without Cabrera.
Beforehand, Cabrera said he was nervous because he planned to witness the birth. He and his wife have three children, ages 7, 6 and 4.
“This is going to be the first time I’m going to be there watching the whole process,’’ Cabrera said. “I’m going to be anxious and nervous at the same time.’’
The Sox entered the game 13th in the AL with 25 runs in seven games and ranked in the bottom third in batting average, OPS, slugging and homers. The timing for Cabrera going away, with Todd Frazier battling illness and Geovany Soto (three of the team’s six homers) going on the disabled list, could have been better.
“To have him be with his family, everybody understands that, and we want him to go down there,’’ Renteria said.
“I will be happier if we win [Thursday] because I want to dedicate this game to my new daughter,’’ Cabrera said. “I want to win [Thursday].’’
That wish was granted, thanks to that early barrage of unprecedented offense beginning on the first pitch when Tim Anderson homered over the tall left-field wall. After Avisail Garcia extended the inning and his hitting streak with a two-out single, Matt Davidson, filling in for Frazier at third base, hit a three-run homer to right field to make it 4-0.
Garcia (3-for-4) drove in two runs in the second with a two-out single, walked in the fourth and drove in another run with a single in the eighth. He has hit safely in all eight games and is batting .452 with eight RBI.
“I want to be consistent all year long,’’ Garcia said.
A second victory in as many outings looked like easy pickings for right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who entered with a 2.74 ERA over his last 12 starts dating to last July, but he struggled with fastball command and couldn’t finish the fifth inning to qualify for the victory.
After Gonzalez gave up four hits in the fifth, including Michael Brantley’s first homer since 2015 and an RBI double to Lonnie Chisenhall, Renteria went to Anthony Swarzak with two outs.
“I wanted him to get [the win], but you’re either working for him or working for the team,’’ Renteria said.
“Definitely,’’ Gonzalez said. “That’s what it’s all about. I was leaving balls up. I totally understand that.’’
Swarzak, who pitched a scoreless inning the night before, took over and pitched 1‰ scoreless innings before handing off to Dan Jennings and Tommy Kahnle to finish off the Indians (4-5).
To save pitching, Indians manager Terry Francona used infielder Michael Martinez to pitch the ninth.
“To win two of three here is huge,’’ Gonzalez said. “We’re playing good baseball right now. Let’s keep it going.’’
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.