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Indians 9, White Sox 4: Chris Sale comes undone as skid hits five

Miserable road trip continues as Cleveland frustrates Opening Day starter with six-run fifth inning

Ed Hickox warns Chris Sale after plunking Michael Brantley.
Ed Hickox warns Chris Sale after plunking Michael Brantley.

During what's been a stretch of thoroughly uninspiring baseball, the White Sox hadn't let a game truly get away from them until today.

Two problems:

  1. Chris Sale was on the mound for this one.
  2. Nick Swisher played a prominent role.

Sale's command never looked sharp. When the Sox gave him a 2-0 lead in the first on a Mark Reynolds error and a Paul Konerko RBI single, Sale gave it right back. He walked Ryan Raburn with two outs, then left a two-seamer high to Swisher for a two-run homer, tying the game.

In the third, Swisher hit a two-out double off the wall. It could have been catchable had Dayan Viciedo run back to the wall and been ready to jump, but instead he drifted back and got stuck as the ball hit the padding above him. Mark Reynolds then spanked a third-pitch fastball through the middle to give the Indians the lead.

After a six-run fifth inning, it was never in doubt. Save came unglued. He gave up a weak single to Asdrubal Cabrera, a smoked double to Raburn, hit Swisher on the knee with a backdoor slider attempt, and then hung a slider to Reynolds, who sent it over the wall in left for a grand slam.

Sale, whose mechanics tend to come unglued after a big home run, lost a two-seamer and hit Michael Brantley on the hamstring. The suspicious timing drew boos and a warning from home plate umpire Ed Hickox. After a flyout to right, Robin Ventura removed Sale in favor of Deunte Heath.

Sale finished with the worst line of his career: 4⅓ IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 2 HBP.

And then Heath, throwing his first MLB pitch of the year, gave up a two-run homer to Yan Gomes. That extended Cleveland's lead to 9-2.

Alejandro De Aza put the Sox back on the board with a two-run homer in the seventh, temporarily livening up a very bleak afternoon. Zach McAllister had his way with the White Sox lineup after Konerko's single, retiring 10 in a row at one point. He allowed just five hits and no walks over 6⅓ innings, striking out six.

Tyler Flowers accounted for two of those strikeouts, and he's now 0-for-21 with 10 strikeouts since his fifth-inning double off Seattle's Blake Beavan on April 5. Viciedo also had trouble laying off McAllister's high fastball, going an uninspiring 0-for-4.

And if that wasn't enough, Alex Rios also went 0-of-4, bringing his 16-game hitting streak to an end.

Record: 4-7 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights