Indians 12, White Sox 6: The marathon series continues on the South Side

Alexei sneaks a back leg across the plate under Santana's tag, to tie the game at six - Jonathan Daniel

A battle of the bullpens goes in the favor of the Indians, who won their first 2014 battle against the White Sox today.

On a lovely yet gusty 70-degree day in Chicago, the Indians and the White Sox faced each other for the third time this season, in what slowly became a balloon-popping reality check for Sox fans who were perhaps flying a little too high after the first two games of the series (myself included). Despite long-held hopes for a comeback win, the Sox lost 12-6 to the Tribe.

Neither starting pitcher wound up with a decision today, as the eighteen total runs scored were alternated and scattered throughout the game. The teams were tied at six going into the 7th, and it wasn't until the 9th inning that the game soared out of reach for the home team. The Sox offense had a tough time keeping up with the Indians bullpen performance, despite opportunities.

Cleveland's starter Justin Masterson was unusually hittable today, lasting only 4.2 innings and giving up five earned runs in that time. White Sox starter Felipe Paulino took another beating in his five innings of work, giving up six earned runs on six hits; including three home runs and three walks, while only fanning three.

Where the Sox bullpen failed after the 5th, the Indians' prevailed. Their four relief pitchers combined to throw 4.1 scoreless innings allowing only one hit, and striking out six Sox batters (thirteen total Ks for Cleveland pitching today, when combined with Masterson's seven).

Pitching struggles were the story of the game. Cleveland scored three runs in the first after Francona challenged a Nyjer Morgan pick-off call at first base. The umpires reviewed the play and ruled him safe after all, so two outs/bases empty reverted back to one out/one-on rather quickly. And the inning continued for much too long after that, with Paulino throwing 27 pitches.

Not to be outdone, Masterson followed Paulino's crappy first with his own, starting with a leadoff walk to Adam Eaton. Leury Garcia reached first on a throwing error by Aviles, which also allowed Eaton to be safely into third with no outs. Early-season darling Conor Gillaspie kept the line moving with a soft single to left, scoring Eaton. Jose Abreu walked and Adam Dunn continued with a deep fly single to a gap in right-center, scoring both Garcia and Gillaspie to tie the game at three. Alejandro De Aza hit a one-out single past the second baseman, to score Abreu and give the Sox the 4-3 lead to take into the second inning, after a pair of strikeouts sat down Adrian Nieto and Jordan Danks. Masterson left the first inning with 36 pitches tossed.

David Murphy led off the second inning with a deep fly ball down the right field line, ruled a home run to tie the game at four. From the replays, it appeared the ball came down to the right side of the foul pole; but lastof12, who was sitting along the first base line, stated that he heard the ball hit the foul pole. So the umps got the call right (if you believe lastof12's earwitness accounts). It wasn't reviewed anyway.

Eaton began the bottom of the second with his own solo shot - his first home run in a White Sox uniform - to give the Sox the 5-4 edge. The advantage lasted until the fifth inning, when everyone's favorite lil' Indian, Nick Swisher, attacked a fastball that Paulino put right down the pipe for him, practically gift-wrapped. The strong winds to right carried it promptly out of the park; as they did Kipnis' solo shot that immediately followed, giving the Indians the 6-5 lead. This inning was the end of Paulino, who went 106 pitches (59 strikes).

The final glimpse of Sox offense came with a bit of luck in the bottom of the fifth, when Dunn reached on a HBP, Alexei singled, and De Aza lined one hard off the tip of Swisher's glove, to load the bases with no outs. Nieto hit a swinging bunt that earned the Sox their first out at the plate, and Danks then hit a grounder to Swisher, who stepped on first and quickly turned it home to get Ramirez. Alexei slid around Santana with precision, and swept his back foot across the plate to score the tying run.

The Sox offense fell silent from there, and the bullpen made their own messes. At the hands of Scott Downs and Daniel Webb, the Indians took an 8-6 lead in the seventh, and then scored four more off of Donnie Veal in the top of the ninth, to lock it down.

Worth noting ~

- Alexei extended his season-starting hit streak to twelve games, and broke Big Frank's record in the process.

- The only late-inning Sox hit was a double by Eaton, who went 2-3 with two runs, a ribbie, and two walks.  The hit very well may have turned into a triple, but a fan reached over the low wall along the left field line, and lifted it out of play like a big fat stoopidface.

- The wind was to blame for both jet-streaming the ball to right field today, and killing it in its tracks to left.

- Some random and fun combined team series totals, after three games:  588 minutes played, 43 runs scored, 21 pitching *changes

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