Chris Sale was brilliant – he had to be every bit of that to hang with Corey Kluber — Adam Eaton was alert and rookie Carlos Sanchez was clutch in the White Sox’ 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians in 10 innings Monday at U.S. Cellular Field, their sixth in a row that lifted them above .500 for the first time.
The Sox celebrated the result of this error-free pitchers duel when Sanchez, called up Thursday to shore up the Sox infield defense, lined on 0-2 pitch from Zach McAllister beyond the reach of diving left fielder Zach Walters to score pinch-runner J.B. Shuck from second and set off a wild scene around second base.
The good times are rolling for the Sox (18-17), who are finding their way after a discouraging start. On a night when Kluber gave up one run and struck out 12 in nine innings giving him 30 Ks over his last two starts, Sale gave up one run over eight innings, striking out seven and retiring the last 10 Indians he faced.
Sale said Kluber “has the nastiest stuff I’ve ever seen.” To keep the Sox streak going on his night and to open a seven-game homestand against AL Central teams with a win against him was big.
“We’re picking up momentum,’’ Sale said. “We’re all starting to get confident.
“He’s the best pitcher in the game and to come out and not be fazed by that, to keep grinding, to keep at it and win in the end, you can’t ask for much more than that.’’
Adam Eaton got the first run on his own, pulling a triple into the right field corner in the sixth and scoring on a curveball in the dirt that skipped about 12 feet away from catcher Roberto Perez. Eaton slid head first, getting tagged on the hand but called safe when the ball popped out of Perez’s mitt.
With Abreu batting, Perez said he was surprised to see Eaton coming.
“Kluber is a heck of a pitcher,” Eaton said. “You’re not going to get too many chances with a man on third there.”
“The way we scored that run with Eaton making the heads-up play, that’s probably the definition of grinding right there,’’ Sale said.
Kluber was dominant from the get-go, striking out Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Abreu, Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia to start the game. He retired the first 10 Sox, striking out seven of them.
The way Kluber was throwing, the Indians’ run against Sale in the third looked huge. Perez led off with a double to right-center, was bunted to third by Jason Kipnis and scored on Jose Ramirez’ sacrifice fly to Garcia in right.
But the Sox came from behind to win for the 12th time, lifting their record since May 5 to 10-3, the mark in the majors during that span. They are 11-5 at home and 8-3 in one-run games.
Closer David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th consecutive scoreless appearance against the Indians and Zach Duke (2-2) pitched a perfect 10th.
The Sox are 4-0 since brining up Sanchez to replace Micah Johnson.
“They give me the opportunity to play every day at second base and do my job and I feel very confident right now about my game,’’ he said.
“It was a very exciting moment for me and it was the first time that I hit a walk-off hit. But the most important thing is that we won the game.”