Perhaps, with an off day to shake off the sting of Sunday’s last-second loss, the reader was able to drum up more optimism than the author for the White Sox matchup against Corey Kluber–a true AL Cy Young candidate–and the division-leading Indians, who had taken their last six contests against the South siders.
From this side of fence, however, it looks like everyone got just about what they should have expected.
1. Kluber has killed before, and with more malice, but his six one-run innings Tuesday night were more about pulling out just what he needed, when he needed it. When Melky Cabrera ripped a two-out double down the right field line in the first inning, Kluber got Jose Abreu to pop up a slider to end the threat. When Tim Anderson pushed Justin Morneau to third with a two-out double, Kluber shut the door by whipping a vicious running fastball over the inside corner of the plate to freeze Omar Narvaez to end another. And when a two-out walk to Abreu put runners on the corners for Morneau in the third, Kluber pulled out the same trick to end it once more.
2. Three-straight innings of scoring opportunities against Kluber is more than could have been expected, and beyond a Morneau solo shot on a hanging slider in the sixth, that was all the Sox were provided. Backstroking in a luxurious pool of elite relief options these days, the Indians smoothly transitioned into three perfect innings from Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and called it a night.
3. Jose Quintana is even less typically in fire-breathing mode than Kluber, and certainly stuck to form as unglamorous tragic hero Tuesday. He logged six innings, striking out only three while walking two, but the two runs he allowed summed up his whole simultaneously blessed but snakebit existence.
Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor rapped back-to-back doubles in the first to put the Sox in a permanent deficit, but Lindor’s hit was a dying flare to right-center gap that just barely eluded the diving grasp of capable-fourth-outfielder-turned-miscast-center-fielder J.B. Shuck.
Two innings later, Quintana issued the dreaded leadoff walk to the wrong man, Rajai Davis, but quickly corrected his mistake by sniffing out Davis’ move to steal second and picking him off. Only Abreu threw the ball high and wide of Anderson at short in the subsequent rundown, and Davis slid in safe under his delayed tag. Despite Quintana striking out Kipnis on a curve and retiring Lindor without incident, he was still punished by Mike Napoli roping a single down the left field line to knock in the runner that should not have been there.
Quintana did not have a 1-2-3 inning all night, but somehow held the Indians scoreless from that dispiriting point on.
4. In the seventh, with the game newly in doubt, the Sox turned to the verifiably poor Matt Albers; a struggling veteran who neither seems fit for high-leverage work, nor is a promising talent who needs an opportunity to gain experience, nor seems to have a future with the club beyond Oct. 2. He immediately gave up a leadoff double to catcher Roberto Perez, got a groundout from Davis, and gave way to Dan Jennings, who to his credit only fulfills two of the three of the clauses that apply to Albers. Jennings allowed hits to both the men he faced, pushing the game to 3-1, and gave way to Chris Beck, who–hey now–is actually a prospect and was kinda interesting as he struck out two over 1.2 scoreless innings.
5. Morneau upped his season line to .301/.344/.518 with his two-hit night, and has shown himself to still be competent while providing the Sox the service of a brief respite from DH aggravation. Anderson collected another walk, and now his .292 OBP is closing in on Todd Frazier‘s, who struck out in all four of his plate appearances.
After getting struck out with runners on in the second, Narvaez made two outs on two pitches for the rest of the game, so he refuses to be pigeonholed at least.
Team Record: 56-62
Next game is Wednesday at Cleveland on WPWR on 6:10pm CT
Lead Image Credit: David Richard // USA Today Sports Images