Indians 7, White Sox 4
The Indians left Progressive Field on the brink of a playoff berth and went home. The party's on hold.
In 2020, little goes as planned.
“Everything is awkward this year," acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “So you can add that to it.”
Carlos Santana's two-run homer snapped a fifth-inning tie and José Ramírez homered again as Cleveland moved closer to clinching a postseason spot — and slowed Chicago's push for the AL Central title — with a win over the White Sox on Monday night.
The Indians, who missed the playoffs a year ago, cut their magic number to one and would lock up one of the AL's eight postseason spots if Seattle loses to Houston later Monday.
But Alomar said the club wasn't staying around to watch, and that if the Indians do make the playoffs, there will be time to celebrate.
“It’s very difficult to stick around indoors with the (COVID-19) protocols and stuff like that,” he said. “We’ll just come back tomorrow and see what happens.”
By winning the series opener, Cleveland improved to 5-2 this season against the White Sox, who are on the verge of winning their first division crown since 2008. It’s possible the rivals could meet again next week in the playoffs depending on how the final days of the regular season unfold.
“You’re never out of the woods with the Chicago White Sox,” Alomar said. "They’re very dangerous and anybody in that lineup can take you deep and it’s almost like navigating through a hailstorm because they’re very powerful.”
After the White Sox tied it with four runs in the fifth against Aaron Civale (4-5), Santana came to the plate in the bottom half batting just .189 after striking out in his two previous at-bats.
But with Ramirez on first after a one-out walk, Santana pulled a 2-1 sinker from Jace Fry (0-1) over the left-field wall and into the empty bleachers. Franmil Reyes hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to put Cleveland up 7-4.
Nick Wittgren struck out the side in the seventh and James Karinchak worked the eighth before Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 14 tries. He struck out slugger José Abreu for the final out with two runners on.
Hand got some help as center fielder Delino DeShields made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Tim Anderson of at least a double.
Two batters later, White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected for arguing a called third strike to James McCann by plate umpire Dan Bellino.
“I had to,” Renteria said. "I don’t want my catcher getting involved in anything that’s going to take him any further, and we already lost our catcher. I may have been wrong, but from vantage point it looked like the ball was around the plate, maybe caught the plate, but there was no reason for him to stand there and get involved in that.”
Ramírez, who has been making a late MVP push while carrying Cleveland's offense, connected in the first off rookie Dane Dunning. It was Ramírez's third homer in five at-bats over two days, fifth in five days and gave him 16 this season.
Ramírez has seven homers and 15 RBIs in his last 10 games.
Down 4-0, the White Sox, who missed some early chances against Civale, tied it on Abreu's two-run single and Eloy Jiménez's 14th homer.
But the Indians recovered thanks to Santana, who connected for his sixth homer.
“Santana comes out and picks me up and picks up the team,” said Civale, who has gone at least six innings in all 11 starts this season. "So it’s just a team effort every time out there and I think that’s the way that we play baseball.”
The Indians bumped ace Shane Bieber's start back from Tuesday to Wednesday, so he'll be in line to pitch Game 1 in the playoffs. Bieber leads the league in nearly every major statistical category and is favored to win the AL Cy Young Award.
The White Sox came in leading the AL in average, slugging percentage and run differential. They're second in runs, home runs and OPS and third in in on-base percentage.
The last team to lead in all those categories was the 1995 Indians.
The Indians played their 40th game without manager Terry Francona, who continues to recover from gastrointestinal surgery and blood-clotting issues.
The 61-year-old Francona won't be back for this series, but he's expected to enter the pre-playoff quarantine “bubble” with his team. It's not yet known if he'll be back for the three-game series against Pittsburgh starting Friday or the postseason.
Mariners 6, Astros 1
Marco Gonzales threw eight shutout innings, Evan White broke the game open with a three-run homer in the seventh and Seattle beat Houston.
Seattle’s victory clinched the AL West title for Oakland, ending Houston’s three-year run atop the division. The win also improved Seattle’s slim hopes of catching the Astros for second place in the division and a guaranteed playoff spot. The Mariners are three games behind Houston with six remaining.
It was just the third win for Seattle in its past 27 meetings with Houston over the last two seasons.
Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3) didn’t allow a hit until Tim Lopes’ one-out double in the sixth — but things quickly unraveled. Ty France had an RBI double and McCullers’ night ended when White turned on a hanging 2-2 curveball and lined it over the left-field wall for his seventh home run and a 4-0 lead.
Seattle added two more off reliever Brandon Bielak in the eighth on Kyle Seager’s deep fly into the left-field corner that Michael Brantley couldn’t track down.
Gonzales (7-2) pitched out of trouble. He stranded runners at second in the second, fourth and sixth innings. He allowed seven hits and struck out six. He’s won five straight decisions.
McCullers allowed three hits and struck out seven, but none of the four runs were earned.
Angels 8, Rangers 5
Jared Walsh hit his first career grand slam during the Angels’ seven-run fourth inning in a win over Texas.
Max Stassi had a two-run single in the final home game of the fifth consecutive losing season for the Angels (24-31), who have won 12 of 18 overall after taking three of four from Texas.
Walsh extended his hitting streak to 13 games when he mashed a sinker from Kyle Gibson (2-6) 450 feet over the ficus trees behind the center-field fence at the Big A.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Derek Dietrich homered for the last-place Rangers, who have lost five of seven.
Mike Mayers got six outs to earn his first save with the Angels and the second of his five-year major league career.
Dylan Bundy (6-3) allowed three runs over five inconsistent innings.
Cubs 5, Pirates 0
Jon Lester scattered four hits over six innings and the Cubs inched closer to their first NL Central title since 2017.
Lester (3-2) struck out one and walked one in his first victory since Aug. 11. He retired the first nine batters he faced and kept the lowest-scoring team in the majors in check. Only two of Pittsburgh’s four hits left the infield.
Kyle Schwarber doubled twice and drove in a pair of insurance runs in the eighth. Javy Báez drove in a run with a surprise bunt and Victor Caratini added an RBI double.
Pittsburgh rookie starter J.T. Brubaker (1-3) pitched 6 2/3 solid innings. He allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and a career-high nine strikeouts.
Nationals 5, Phillies 1
Bryce Harper was hitless in his return from back stiffness and Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi was ejected in the third inning of a loss to Washington.
Harper went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts as the designated hitter, dropping his average to .254.
Third-place Philadelphia fell to 27-27 and with six games left. Girardi and center fielder Roman Quinn were ejected in the third inning for arguing a call by plate umpire Junior Valentine.
Aníbal Sánchez (3-5) allowed one run and four hits in five innings and combined with four relievers on a six-hitter.
Zack Wheeler (4-1) gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Braves 5, Marlins 4
Austin Riley’s two-run double capped a wild first inning and the deep Atlanta bullpen took it from there, allowing just one run over the final six innings to push the Braves a step closer to a third straight NL East title .
Tyler Matzek (4-3) pitched two hitless innings for the win, and Darren O’Day and Chris Martin each worked a scoreless frame. Will Smith escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and Mark Melancon claimed his 11th save.
The Braves could clinch the division title as soon as Tuesday.
Rookie Trevor Rogers (1-2) took the loss.
Reds 6, Brewers 3
Eugenio Suárez hit a two-run homer, Luis Castillo won his fourth straight start, and streaking Cincinnati moved above .500 for the first time since opening day.
The Reds (28-27) won for the eighth time in nine games. The Brewers (26-27) had their season-high four-game winning streak snapped.
Suárez connected in the sixth inning off Brandon Woodruff (2-5), who had repeatedly escaped threats.
The Reds pulled away in the eighth against Drew Rasmussen. Curt Casali led off with a homer and Mike Moustakas added a three-run shot.
Castillo (4-5) gave up four hits and fanned nine in 6 2/3 innings.
Jedd Gyorko homered off one of Castillo’s few mistakes.
Rockies 7, Giants 2
Kevin Pillar homered against his former team and German Márquez pitched six strong innings to snap a five-game losing streak as Colorado beat San Francisco.
In the opener of an eight-game road trip to end the season, the Rockies knocked around Johnny Cueto for seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Giants (26-27) trail the Philadelphia Phillies by a half-game for the final playoff spot in the National League. The Rockies (24-29) are 2 1/2 games back.
Colorado scored two runs in the first on RBI singles by Josh Fuentes and Ryan McMahon. Pillar’s sixth homer of the season made it 3-0 in the third, and the Rockies added another run in the fourth on a balk. They kept piling on in the fifth with a two-run single by Elias Diaz and an RBI single from Garrett Hampson. The seven runs allowed by Cueto (2-2) were a season high.
Márquez (3-6) limited the Giants to one run and five hits, striking out three.
Royals 4, Cardinals 1
Maikel Franco hit the go-ahead single with two outs in the sixth inning and the Kansas City bullpen shut down St. Louis from the fourth inning on.
Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler also drove in runs for the Royals, who returned for their final homestand after getting swept in Milwaukee.
Carlos Hernandez allowed one run over 3 2/3 innings before giving way to Jake Newberry, Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont (2-1) and former Fitch standout Jesse Hahn, who combined to allow one hit — a two-out single by Paul Goldschmidt — without a walk over the next 4 1/3 innings. Greg Holland worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his sixth save.
Franco’s two-run single down the right-field line off Adam Wainwright (5-2) was enough to spoil an otherwise solid night by the longtime Cardinals starter. He wound up allowing three runs on six hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings.
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