CLEVELAND (MCT) — The Chicago media and fans of the White Sox will have something to debate all winter: Why did their team blow a three-game lead against the Tigers with little more than two weeks left in the season.
That was the backdrop of the Sox’s 11-0 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.
There will be no postseason for either Chicago team this fall. The White Sox won the battle Monday night but lost the war, with the Tigers clinching the Central Division championship by beating the Royals in Kansas City.
With only two games to play on the schedule, the White Sox trail by three. The basics of the postmortem are pretty simple: Going into Monday night’s game, the Sox had lost 10 of 12, including two to the Tribe last week at U.S. Cellular Field.
“They were playing for their lives, but Detroit has control,” manager Sandy Alomar said. “The only control the Sox had was what they did against us. We tried to stay in the game, but they were too much for us tonight.”
Count Corey Kluber as the second Indians’ starter to end the season with a warm and fuzzy feeling heading into winter.
Kluber followed Sunday’s winner, Zach McAllister, who gave up three runs in 62/3 innings in a rout of the Royals. Kluber was not the winning pitcher Monday night, and he gave up four runs (two let in the bullpen) in 5 2/3 innings.
“Corey did a good job, but his pitch count got close to 100, so we took him out,” Alomar said. “He’s got good stuff. They were just able to hit some pitches he got up.”
The numbers don’t indicate anything special, but for five innings, Kluber yielded only two hits and one walk. And when he could have gotten into trouble in the second inning — giving up singles to Paul Konerko and Alex Rios — he snuffed out the Sox by retiring A.J. Pierzynski on a fly ball, striking out Dayan Viciedo and inducing Alexei Ramirez to hit a pop fly to short.
Kluber got in trouble with one out in the sixth by giving up a weird rolling infield single to Dewayne Wise. But he struck out Kevin Youkilis before giving up two hits and a walk, enabling Chicago to score twice and snap a 0-0 tie.
When Joe Smith ostensibly came to Kluber’s rescue, he tacked on two more runs to Kluber’s line, allowing RBI singles by Pierzynski and Viciedo that made it 4-0.
In his past three starts, Kluber has solidified his chance to be taken seriously as a contender for the rotation next spring. In those outings, against the Twins and White Sox (twice), he posted a 1-0 record, 4.34 earned-run average, walking six and striking out 15 in 182/3 innings.
That hardly guarantees Kluber anything more than his own locker in training camp, but he has climbed several steps up the credibility ladder.
“When I stand back and look at it, I think there are things I need to improve on and some things I did improve,” Kluber said. “But I’ll continue to work on everything. Experience is invaluable in being able to know I can pitch against major-league hitters and get them out.”
Indians batsmen didn’t appear to be in the mood. Maybe it was just good pitching by Sox starter Hector Santiago. Maybe not. Santiago held the Tribe to one hit and one walk in seven innings. He also hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch in the hand. Cabrera might miss the last two games.
“Santiago was really nasty tonight,” Alomar said. “He kept the ball down, and he had that great screwball. We couldn’t eliminate any pitch, because he was throwing them all for strikes.”
None of this improved the mood of the Indians, who might have been arm weary from scoring 15 runs on 19 hits against the Royals on Sunday. Santiago struck out 10 batters, more than any other White Sox rookie since Jason Bere, who struck out 12 Angels on Sept. 20, 1993. Bere later pitched for the Tribe.