White Sox, Sale breeze to third straight win over Indians
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CLEVELAND – Jeff Samardzija said it helped him relax.
Jose Quintana described it as “unbelievable.”
Chris Sale said “you can say enough about how that settles me in.’’
This unheard of sensation White Sox pitchers spoke of is run support, which in victories of 8-1 (Samardzija on Thursday), 6-0 (Quintana Friday) and 10-3 (Sale on Saturday) was borderline intoxicating for a starting rotation that owns a 2.41 ERA over the last 21 games, and, largely due to a lack of support, could lose Samardzija before the trade deadline.
The Sox improved to 45-50 with their third straight win and go for a four-game series sweep Sunday. Sox lefty Carlos Rodon, who will face Indians right-hander Danny Salazar, is probably saying “save some for me” to a lineup that opened Saturday’s game against right-hander Carlos Carrasco with four straight singles, batted around in the first and gave Sale a 5-0 lead before he threw a pitch at Progressive Field.
“It was fun to watch,’’ Sale said.
Melky Cabrera (3-for-5) drove in a run with a single, and Jose Abreu and Tyler Flowers had two-run singles in the first. Carlos Sanchez hit his first career homer, a 404-foot shot in the fourth. Cabrera, hitting .362 with 21 RBI in his last 28 games, had an RBI single in the seventh and a double in the eighth. The Sox banged out 16 hits.
“It was an offensive explosion,’’ Sale said.
Sale (9-5, 2.85 ERA) saw his streak of double-digit strikeout games on the road end at seven, but he turned in another premium start with seven strikeouts, no walks and two runs allowed over seven innings. Samardzija and Quintana didn’t walk anyone, either.
Say this for the Sox starters, who were on the wrong end of bad defense for the first three months of the season as well as having the lowest-scoring team in the American League: They haven’t called anyone out for the lack of support.
“They know they’re not getting runs and they have to bear down, focus and make good pitches because there is not much room for error,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said.
“The focus, in Quintana’s case for example, might heighten. In a crazy way it can get a pitching staff to really bear down, which is what they have to do.’’
Cooper knows he might lose Samardzija, who can become a free agent after the season and is the subject of trade rumors.
“I wouldn’t want to see Samardzija go because he’s a main cog in our rotation,” Cooper said. “I like the guy, he’s a quality pitcher who brings many, many good assets to the team that I like. Until something changes, he’s on our team and we’re preparing for the next start for him.”
Sale said the Sox, who climbed over the Indians out of last place in the AL Central are “absolutely” in the wild card picture being five out in the loss column. He said he understands the “business side” of where the Sox are but hopes Samardzija stays.
“We’re just putting it together,’’ Sale said. “We had a six-run lead and we had guys diving for balls in the outfield, hustling down the line. This is what we’ve seen the whole time and know we can play like.’’
Asked if the Sox can be a legitimate player in the wild card race, Ventura said, “if we play like that, yeah.’’
Maybe everyone is just feeling tipsy after the Sox won by six runs or more in three straight games for the first time since May, 2012.
“Until somebody shows me mathematically we are eliminated, we have a chance,” Cooper said. “So let’s go out every day and see if we can win and see where it takes us.”
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