I have to say heading into this three-game series in Chicago, I am conflicted. On one hand is my love for the Indians. Through thick and thin, no matter how negative I have become about them, I bleed Wahoo Red, White, and Blue. The Indians are my clear #1 even though I live in BrownsTown USA. Seeing them play spoiler is bittersweet, but at least I like to see them fight and scrap and play until the end with their best effort.
On the other hand is my deep hatred for the Detroit Tigers. They headed into last night trailing the White Sox by one game in the AL Central. Neither team has played well over the last three weeks and the White Sox have lost five in a row. The Tribe would most likely provide the perfect elixir for what was ailing them.
The Sox sent out lefty Chris Sale, their first round pick from 2010, the same year the Indians took Drew Pomeranz at #5. The Tribe has been unable to touch him in his two previous starts and with the way they have been swinging the bat, it seemed like this would be another ho-hum loss for our Wahoos. But that’s why they play the games.
The Tribe countered with Zach McAllister who was in dire need of a quality start after posting an ERA over five since the beginning of August. Not only did McAllister match Sale pitch for pitch, but he actually outdueled him. After Russ Canzler’s two-run homer in the sixth busted a 1-1 tie, McAllister gave one of the runs back on a solo blast from Adam Dunn. Dunn entered the at-bat on a 2-21 slump and had K’d in both of his first two ABs.
McAllister was terrific in his six innings, giving up the two runs on just four hits, striking out seven. The Indians got Sale for three runs on 10 hits in seven. With a 3-2 lead, things were all set up for Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez to close out a win.
Smitty struck out the side in the seventh and the struggling Sox looked like they would be dead. But in the eighth, something occurred that hasn’t too often this year – Vinnie Pestano was beaten.
“He’s been terrific,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “That’s why we can’t complain about him at all. He’s done an outstanding job. A lot of the times, he comes in to set up the game and he gets the heart of the order and he goes through it like nothing.”
The Tribe’s ace set up man put two on with two out on a walk and an infield single, which brought Dunn back to the plate. Vinnie got ahead 0-2 but then hung a pitch right in Dunn’s wheelhouse. It was deposited over the center field fence for a break-breaking three-run homer. White Sox fans may look back at this one as the hit that saved their season.
“I missed all the way on the opposite side of the plate,” Pestano said. “I wanted to come in and move his feet. I just pushed it up and out, right into his barrel.”
The back end of the bullpen has been nails in 2012 for the most part, but last night they failed to do their job. Its a shame too, considering the positive start from McAllister.
Credit the Tribe for never quitting on this one. It would have been easy to be deflated and go in order in the ninth. They managed two singles and an RBI double from Shin-Soo Choo to cut the lead to 5-4. However, lefty Donnie Veal emerged from the bullpen to get Jason Kipnis for the one out save.
“With the exception of my performance, we played a great game,” said Pestano.
The White Sox badly needed this one. Justin Verlander shut down the Royals last night as the Tigers took the first game of their series with KC. They stayed a game in front with this come from behind win against the Tribe. Meanwhile, our boys get another crack to play spoiler tonight. Unfortunately, they have to face another lefty, Francisco Liriano. Corey Kluber will get the ball from Acta.
(AP Photo/John Smierciak)