The White Sox’ work is not done.
A postseason berth is in the bag, but the American League Central title isn’t, not after the host Indians handed the Sox (34-20) a 7-4 loss Monday, their third defeat in four games. That cut their lead on the Twins (33-22) to 1½ games with six to play.
The Indians’ Jose Ramirez put the Sox in a three-run hole three batters into the game with a home run against Dane Dunning, and after Eloy Jimenez clubbed a tying two-run homer in a four-run Sox fifth, the Indians bounced right back with a two-run homer by Carlos Santana against lefty Jace Fry (0-1).
“Don’t forget, the top four guys in their lineup are pretty accomplished,” said Sox manager Rick Renteria, who was ejected by plate umpire Dan Bellino in the ninth inning for arguing after catcher James McCann was called out on strikes. “They’re always dangerous. I know their numbers don’t show what they are capable of doing, and they showed it today. They’re going to grind out at-bats to get you.”
The Sox’ magic number to clinch their first division title since 2008 held at 4. The Indians (30-24) moved to four games behind the Sox with three games left in this series and cut their magic number to clinch a postseason berth to 1, with one of the eight postseason spots theirs if the Mariners lost to the Astros later Monday.
“If you don’t execute against a major- league club, there’s a chance they’re going to get you, and they showed that today,” Renteria said.
The Sox lost their second straight game and had their second and third injury scares in two games. Tim Anderson left Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the Reds with a crampy hamstring but was fit to play Monday. On Monday, catcher Yasmani Grandal left after the seventh inning after taking a foul tip off his bare right hand; X-rays were negative. And Jimenez came up hobbling after beating out an infield single but stayed in the game to deliver two singles and his 14th homer of the season against Aaron Civale.
“He said he felt like he pinched his knee a little bit,” Renteria said. “He said he was 100 percent fine. Sometimes you can step on the bag and just irritate it a little.”
In the Sox’ four-run fifth, Anderson (1-for-5) singled, Grandal doubled and Jose Abreu racked up his 54th and 55th RBI with a single in the fifth before the Jimenez homer.
Dunning, a candidate to be the third starter in the playoff rotation behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, lasted only four innings, allowing four runs, six hits and one walk while striking out five. Dunning threw 87 pitches, including a 3-1 fastball that Ramirez turned on to put him in an early hole.
Ramirez has seven homers and 15 RBI in his last 10 games.
“It was a little bit in, but it was belt-high, right in his swing, and he put a really good swing on it,” Dunning said.“The command was definitely off. I didn’t have a feel for a couple pitches. As the game kind of went on, the pitches went on, I was able to get a lot more feel for it.”
Dunning’s ERA climbed to 3.19, and the Sox lost for the first time in his six starts.
The Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but left-hander Brad Hand struck out McCann and Abreu looking. McCann objected to the call, prompting Renteria to rush out and prevent McCann from getting ejected. Renteria got tossed instead.
The Sox remain two games ahead of the Twins in the loss column and own the tiebreaker with the by virtue of a better record against the division.