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Indians hit 3 homers off Sale, halt White Sox winning streak at 4

Mike Aviles is congratulated after leading off the fourth inning with a home run against the White Sox' Chris Sale. The Indians won 3-2. AP

Chris Sale will beat himself up for allowing three runs in a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians Sunday, all of them on solo homers, in a game that could have extended the White Sox winning streak to five games.

That’s the kind of team guy Sale is. If the Sox offense scores one run, he figures his assignment is to pitch a shutout, and if he doesn’t, the loss is on him.

But this one, before a paid Labor Day crowd of 17,757 on a steamy afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, was on the offense. Like too many other losses this season, the Sox’ pitter-patter lineup couldn’t muster enough hard contact to win a game.

Asked if Sox pitchers are reaching a boiling point when it comes to a lack of offensive support, catcher Tyler Flowers said, “I think all of us are frustrated.’’

“You can throw coaches in there, catchers in there too. It’s just been a tough year on a lot of things, offense for a lot of us, and myself definitely included in that.

“We’re running out of time to say that hopefully it turns … I don’t know what else to do but to keep working hard and try to get better.’’

This was the 19th time the Sox, who went into the game ranked 14th in runs and slugging percentage and 13th in homers among 15 American League teams, have held an opponent to three runs or less and lost, and to think Indians effectively-wild starter Trevor Bauer (11-11) was there for the taking when he walked Avisail Garcia, J.B. Shuck and Mike Olt on four pitches to open the second inning.

Twelve pitches, 12 balls, bases loaded with nobody out and all the Sox could get off Bauer was two runs on a fielder’s choice ground out by Carlos Sanchez (who fouled off Bauer’s first pitch after the three walks) and Flowers’ sacrifice fly.

“At that point, he’s almost trying to give it to you,’’ Sox manager Robin Ventura said, “and we couldn’t do anything with it.

“Apparently, he was doing something good besides the wildness.

“It was right there for the taking.’’

After that, Bauer, who threw 103 pitches for only 57 strikes, did not give up another run. The Sox finished with three hits on the day, including a single and two-out triple by Garcia.

“If you’d have told me in the second inning that [six] innings later we’d be patting him on the back saying, ‘Way to go,’ that’s not exactly how you draw it up,’’ Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Like Bauer, Sale also pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk. He struck out eight to raise his American League leading total to 247. He is 22 strikeouts shy of the franchise record 269 set by Ed Walsh in 1908.

“It’s cool to talk about; it’s stuff to talk to your buddies and family about, I guess,’’ Sale said of the strikeout numbers. “But … you don’t get to the postseason on strikeouts. You don’t get to the playoffs with fancy numbers and stuff like that. You get there by wins. Everybody in this clubhouse and everybody around Major League Baseball will tell you there’s one thing that’s important and that’s winning. We just got to try to do that more.’’

Some offense would help, and it will be the first order of business when the front office assesses the damage of 2015 and tries to map out a plan to put a team that plays in a hitter’s park that can score runs.

The Sox have hit in spurts – they had scored six runs or more in seven of their previous eight games.

“It's hot and cold,’’ Ventura said.Mostly cold for the Sox, who fell to 65-71 on the first day of a 10-game home stand.

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Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com