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Cleveland 4, White Sox 2: Bad sixth inning spirals into a loss

Lance Lynn earned a quality start, but the White Sox’s offense had few quality at-bats with RISP

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox
The benches cleared in the first inning of the White Sox’s Friday loss to Cleveland.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

With one swing of the bat, José Ramírez changed the game.

Cleveland’s star third baseman unleashed a two-run home run to right field, providing the momentum swing the Wahoos needed in a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Cleveland (7-5) tacked on insurance runs against the White Sox’s (6-7) bullpen and sloppy defense to earn a series split.

Chicago’s Lance Lynn earned a quality start, fitting for a solid six innings, where his only earned runs allowed were on a 3-2 fastball that caught too much of the zone and saw Ramírez blast a two-run shot. Lynn even had Ramírez in a 1-2 count at one point.

Lynn was on the verge of forcing Cleveland to strand a third leadoff hit, and extending his scoreless innings streak (19 13) to start the year.

It wasn’t a repeat of his complete-game shutout, but Lynn struck out 10 batters and held Cleveland to five hits in his six-inning start. Even if he regressed later on, Lynn gave the White Sox a chance to win; considering they put a runner on in each of the first five innings against Aaron Civale, it was surprising to see Lynn leave with a 2-1 deficit.

The White Sox stranded 9 base runners, but rarely offered a true threat. Civale picked up the win by holding them to an earned run on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.

In the first inning, Tim Anderson, who finished 2-for-5, singled on his first pitch back from the IL, and advanced to third on Adam Eaton’s single. However, Eaton was called out at second base after his hand came off the bag when Andres Gimenez started to stand up after applying a late tag. Eaton stood up, started chirping at the umpire, gave Gimenez a little shove and the benches cleared. It ended up being nothing more than an intense argument, but due to COVID-19 and the need to social distance, it’ll be interesting to see how the MLB reacts.

Yoán Moncada drove in Anderson a couple of batters later on a single to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

It took the rest of the game for the White Sox to have a similar threat. In the ninth inning, Luis Robert led off with a triple down the right-field line for his second hit of the day. For some reason Jake Lamb pinch-hit for Nick Madrigal, and the White Sox nearly stranded Robert before Anderson reached on an error with two outs. Eaton flew out to end the game.

The difference ended up being Cleveland taking to take advantage when it put runners on base, despite leaving some rallies on the bases, uncashed.

Against Garrett Crochet’s slower fastball in the seventh, Josh Naylor and Jake Bauers hit back-to-back singles, with Naylor eventually scoring on a ground out a couple of batters later. Crochet’s fastballs sat around 96.5 mph on Cleveland’s two hits, and averaged 96.8 mph in his outing.

Cleveland added a run versus Michael Kopech in the eighth inning, ending his scoreless streak to start the season, too. Cesar Hernandez singled, and then scored when José Abreu flubbed a routine grounder and threw an errantly to give Ramirez second base. Andrew Vaughn prevented the game from getting even more out of hand on an amazing catch at the wall that, let’s just say it, Eloy Jiménez wouldn’t have made.

Though down three runs, that key catch kept the White Sox in the game and within striking distance. But the momentum had already been lost, and there was no getting it back. Emmanuel Clase earned his third save for Cleveland.

It doesn’t get any easier on Friday at the Boston Red Sox (6:10 p.m. CST). Minnesota snapped Boston’s nine-game win streak on Thursday, but the Red Sox are still one of the hottest teams in baseball. Boston sends Nick Pivetta to the mound, while the White Sox are TBA, as it’s the IL’d Dylan Cease’s spot; ReyLo is on the radar.

Colleen Sullivan will provide your SSS recap.