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Indians 4, White Sox 2: Sloppy to the end

Defensive miscues create hole, and strange strategy undermines the comeback

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The White Sox brought the go-ahead run to the plate with nobody out in the ninth inning of a game they didn't deserve to win. Suboptimal decision-making by Robin Ventura -- and equally poor execution by Adam Eaton -- helped push the Indians across the finish line.

Cleveland led 4-2 entering the ninth, but Cody Allen jeopardized the lead by walking Emilio Bonifacio and hitting Micah Johnson. Up came Eaton, ready to give himself up to move the runners 90 feet.

Here's the problem: He fouled off one bunt, and popped back another to put himself a 1-2 hole.

Here's where Ventura screwed up further: The bunt sign remained on.

Eaton showed bunt on a curve out of the zone, then tried following through on a fastball, only to foul it again for strike three.

The Sox still had two bullets left, but Jose Ramirez nearly turned a sharp Melky Cabrera grounder into a 6-4-3 double play, hitting the ground on his backhand side and making a good flip to Jason Kipnis'. Cabrera barely beat the throw to keep the inning alive, but Jose Abreu couldn't extend it any further. He swung at a curveball a foot off the plate for strike one, then whiffed on a fastball and swung over another curve for a four-pitch strikeout.

How the Sox were in it that late was a miracle, though.

Remember a couple games ago, when we noted that Chris Sale was good enough to cover for teammates' flaws? Well, John Danks isn't. He gave up four runs over 4⅔ innings, but only three were earned, and it should've been closer to two.

The Sox fell behind 1-0 thanks to an error by Geovany Soto, who fielded a sac bunt in front of the plate and made a good decision to get the lead runner at second. He just ... didn't get the lead runner at second, as his low throw bounced under Alexei Ramirez's glove. Another sac bunt moved the runners up 90 feet, and a grounder to Micah Johnson put the first run on the board.

An inning later, they tacked on two more, and a lesser misplay started it. Jerry Sands hit a chopper over Danks' head, and Johnson couldn't come up with it cleanly. It was a legit infield single, but Johnson hasn't really made a play with his hands in his very young Sox career.

Sands came around to score on a pair of doubles by Ryan Raburn and Lonnie Chisenhall. The second one hurt, as it gave the Indians a 3-0 lead, and it was a grooved fastball with first base open and the bottom of the Indians order waiting in the wings.

Likewise, Johnson's hands helped push Danks to the showers. Danks issued a two-out walk to Jason Kipnis, but he caught Kipnis leaning with a pickoff throw to first. Kipnis took off for second, and while Abreu's throw was on the other side of the base, it was still in time if Johnson didn't whiff catching it. Kipnis was credited with a "stolen base," and Carlos Santana cashed him in with a single through a weird shift that had Alexei Ramirez well toward third base, but Johnson on the other side of second.

The Sox also botched a couple more plays in the field -- Gillaspie unsuccessfully tried barehanding a squibber by Sands when it looked like he had enough time to glove it, and J.B. Shuck kept retreating on a line drive that ended up falling in front of him. But Matt Albers pitched around the former, and Dan Jennings pitched around the latter (with an assist by Abreu, who somehow made a nice diving stab to save a run).

The offense didn't look like much, either. The Sox didn't register their first hit until the fourth, when Abreu bounced a single through the open right side to finally put a hit on Trevor Bauer's season line (he threw six no-hit innings against Houston to start the season).

That started the first rally, as Adam LaRoche walked, and, after a Conor Gillaspie strikeout, Alexei Ramirez shot a single to left to load the bases. But Shuck (infield fly) and Soto (strikeout) had terrible at-bats against Bauer to end the threat.

Two innings later, the Sox found a way to give Bauer a non-zero ERA. LaRoche drew a one-out walk, moved to third on a Gillaspie double, and scored on Alexei Ramirez's groundout. Shuck then partially redeemed himself by singling up the middle to cut the Tribe lead to 4-2.

Shuck got a third chance to drive in a run, when he came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second in the eighth, but he bounced into a forceout at third to end the rally.

Bullet points:

*The White Sox drew five walks, besting their previous single-game high of ... two. Hell, LaRoche beat that number by himself.

*Albers, Jennings and Zach Putnam combined to throw 3⅓ scoreless innings of relief, with Putnam pitching a 1-2-3 eighth.

*On the bright side: Hey, at least they didn't run into an out!

Record: 3-5 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights