That one left a mark.
Another big mark.
With another walk-off win for the Indians on Wednesday, their second in two nights and one that dropped the White Sox into second place by a half-game behind the Twins in the American League Central with four games to go, the Sox were left trying to gather themselves.
On Tuesday night, Jose Ramirez walked them off. This time, it was Jordan Luplow slamming a long home run to left field on a 3-0 pitch from left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the ninth inning, giving the Indians a 3-2 victory, the Sox’ fourth straight loss and fifth in six games on their road trip.
As the Indians celebrated on the field again after their seventh win in nine games against the Sox this year, the Sox sat looking more down after a loss than any this season.
“They’re showing you that they care,” manager Rick Renteria said.
“We’ve already had our gathering and our talk. When you get walked off, it doesn’t feel good to anybody. All you can do is look ahead. We can’t afford to drop our heads and feel sorry for ourselves.”
The Sox lost Tuesday after taking a two-run lead in the 10th inning. They lost Wednesday after tying it up in the eighth. And now the Indians (32-24) will go for a four-game sweep Thursday with a chance to pull within a game of the Sox (34-22).
“We were playing very well all season long,” said Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who pitched six innings of two-run ball. “Our offense was spectacular. It’s hard to maintain that. This stretch is a little of that wake-up call. It shows us we’re not invincible every time out. Things are going to be tough at times. We need to believe in ourselves to get out of it.”
Only six days ago, the Sox were celebrating a joyous clinching of a first postseason in 12 years with a firm grip on the division lead and clear visions of hosting the best-of-three wild-card series that begins Tuesday. Now they’re looking at a growing possibility of runner-up status and a seeding that could put them on the road, perhaps against the Yankees.
“In the grand scheme of things, it would be great to win the division, and we have some games to make that happen,” Giolito said.
Giolito struck out 11 and Shane Bieber 10 in a tight game featuring two of the best starting pitchers in baseball, and the Sox tied it in the eighth against James Karinchak on Jose Abreu’s sacrifice fly after Yoan Moncada, who had one hit in his previous 34 at-bats, tripled into the right-field corner.
Renteria chose Gonzalez to pitch the ninth. Closer Alex Colome was available but somewhat limited, Renteria said, after having a back spasm the night before. He was in reserve for the 10th, if necessary.
Giolito outlasted Bieber, the heavy Cy Young favorite, by throwing a career-high 119 pitches but left trailing 2-1 after Franmil Reyes’ sacrifice fly scored Ramirez.
Renteria said Giolito throwing on extra rest and having five days of rest before the playoffs justified the high pitch count.
“I felt like I was in my rhythm and getting more on my pitches,” Giolito said. “I felt strong at the end. My body has felt very solid this year.”
Topping 10 strikeouts for the 10th time in his career and third time this season, Giolito fanned 11. He walked three and allowed four hits. He’ll take a 3.48 ERA into his first playoff game next week.
Carlos Santana homered in the second for the Indians and Edwin Encarnacion tied it with an RBI groundout scoring Abreu in the fourth.
Luis Robert went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is now in slumps of 0-for-28 and 6-for-70.
“Absolutely,” Renteria said when asked if Robert might sit Thursday.
“When you see them sitting out there [in the dugout after the game], they’re feeling it,” Renteria said. “They understand where we’re at; they understand we need to play better.”