CLEVELAND - Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jiménez hit sacrifice flies and the Chicago White Sox, who couldn’t do anything against Zach Plesac for eight innings, scored four runs in the ninth — three charged to ineffective Cleveland closer Brad Hand — to beat the Indians 4-0 on Wednesday night.
The Indians got eight terrific innings from Plesac, their No. 5 starter who truck out a career-high 11, shut out the White Sox on three hits and continued a strong run of Cleveland pitching to start the season.
But once he left, the White Sox finally put something together against Hand (0-1). The left-hander gave up a walk and hit a batter in the ninth before the sac flies and rookie Luis Robert’s two-run single helped Chicago snap a three-game losing streak and salvage one game in the series.
“It’s not a must-win, but we needed a victory today,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “This was a pretty clean game. It was a big inning that got us those runs.”
White Sox starter Lucas Giolito matched Plesac pitch for pitch through six, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits. It was a nice bounce back by the All-Star right-hander, who gave up a home run in Minnesota on his first pitch of the season and was touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.
“I was happy to be able to do that, put up zeroes to get our offense back in the dugout and end up getting the bats going later,” Giolito said. “Later is better than never and we were able to come out with a much needed win there. I feel good about this one. It gets me right back on track.”
The White Sox were flustered by Plesac. The right-hander broke a couple bats, made Tim Anderson smash his in frustration near the plate and befuddled Chicago’s hitters. But once he was pulled after throwing 97 pitches, the White Sox went to work.
Anderson doubled leading off the ninth before Hand walked Yoán Moncada and hit José Abreu. Grandal then gave the White Sox all the runs they would need with a liner to right.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth off Alex Colomé, who finally closed it out to protect the win for Aaron Bummer (1-0).
The Indians have opened the season with six consecutive starters pitching at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer. The last team to do that was the 1993 Atlanta Braves, whose staff included Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.
Cleveland last did it in 1905, when the team was known as the Naps.
Plesac said the Indians’ starters are just feeding off each other.
“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re just having a healthy, competitive rotation and this group of guys really put the work in. And each time I watch all my boys throw, it hypes me up.”
The Indians have recorded 72 strikeouts to start the season, the most by the club through six games since 1966.
Before the game, the Indians placed Gold Glove catcher Roberto Pérez on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder injury. He got hurt in the season opener making an off-balance throw to first.
The Indians hit the road under the harrowing cloud of coronavirus.
The outbreak among Miami’s players has raised anxiety, and manager Terry Francona said the situation allowed the team to re-visit some protocols before opening a four-game series at Minnesota on Thursday.
“This will be a big test for us,” he said. “We haven’t been outside of our bubble. We practiced here, we played here. Now we’re going to go on the road for the first time. So it’s going to be important that we don’t take any missteps.”
White Sox: RHP Jimmy Lambert was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained forearm. He has pitched two scoreless innings in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Indians: OF Tyler Naquin is still limited with a fracture in his big right toe and can’t run the bases. OF Delino DeShields Jr. has made progress as he increases activity after testing positive for COVID-19.
White Sox: Off before opening a three-game series at Kansas City on Friday with Dallas Keuchel starting.
Indians: Shane Bieber, who has added a cutter to his repertoire, starts the opener of a three-game series against the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins. Bieber struck out 14 Kansas City Royals in his opening-day start, the most Ks in an opener since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson’s 14 in 1996. José Berríos starts for Minnesota.