Tribe socks it to Chicago in Game 1 of twin bill

Tribe socks it to Chicago in Game 1 of twin bill

Tribe socks it to Chicago in Game 1 of twin bill
CLEVELAND -- Someone forgot to tell the Indians that Phil Humber threw a perfect game this season. If there is any kind of intimidation factor associated with that bit of baseball history, it has not made its way into Cleveland's clubhouse.

To the Tribe, Humber is simply one in the line of opposing hurlers.

"You come every day and prepare for the pitcher," Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner said. "You just go out there and try to execute your game plan."

It all sounds so robotic and -- against Humber -- the offensive outpouring by the Indians has been flat-out methodical. In the first game of Monday's day-night doubleheader against the White Sox, Cleveland pounded Humber early and often then held on late to claim an 8-6 victory at Progressive Field.

Things got interesting in the contest's final moments, but the American League Central-leading Indians (16-11) halted Chicago's comeback attempt en route to their fifth win in six games. In the process, rookie right-hander Zach McAllister picked up his first career victory and lefty Nick Hagadone notched his first career save.

The Tribe's bats stole the show.

"Our offense started early and had a good approach at the plate," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "They put together some good at-bats and clutch hits with two outs. We scored enough."

Enough, that is, for Acta to give a breather to some of Cleveland's regular relievers. And, enough for McAllister to use to his advantage for six solid innings in his first start for the club since September. The right-hander was promoted from Triple-A Columbus prior to his start, and he will now head back to the Minors again.

"I was happy with it," said McAllister, who allowed four runs (two earned) with a career-high five strikeouts. "I thought I was able to make some good pitches when I needed to. I was definitely happy to give the team some innings. And I was definitely excited to get the win."

Humber (1-2), on the other hand, was dealt the defeat, making him 0-2 in his three outings since fashioning a perfect game against the Mariners on April 21. Since that historic performance -- only the 21st perfect game in baseball history -- the right-hander has struggled to the tune of a 13.50 ERA with 21 hits allowed and 11 walks issued across 13 1/3 innings.

Humber's past two starts for the White Sox (13-16) have come against the Tribe, which has piled up 11 runs on 13 hits with eight walks in 8 1/3 innings against the righty. For Monday's game, Cleveland filled its lineup with nine left-handed hitters, playing the percentages to the extreme.

"He has thrown good against lefties, but that's what we'll do," Acta said. "We'll have those nine lefties, we'll throw them at them. We know they have five lefties in the bullpen, but our job is to make sure that we score enough off the starter that, when the bullpen comes in, it's our problem if we didn't score enough with our lineup out there."

Hafner got Cleveland's offense rolling with his fourth home run of the season -- a leadoff blast that kicked off a three-run burst for the Indians in the second inning. Cleveland's veteran DH later added a triple, marking the first time since May 29, 2007 (a span of 1,711 at-bats) that Hafner recorded a three-base hit.

"I'd say I could beat 75-80 percent of the guys on the team in a race, if it came down to it," Hafner quipped.

In the third inning, the Tribe tacked five more runs to Humber's line. Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman contributed consecutive two-run doubles and Asdrubal Cabrera later drew a walk with the bases loaded. Cabrera's free pass was issued by White Sox lefty Jose Quintana, but the run went against Humber.

Humber, whose ERA has climbed to 6.83 from 0.63 since his perfect game, did not use the Indians' lefty-laden lineup as an excuse.

"Obviously they have a theory about putting a lot of lefties in the lineup against me," Humber said. "But we are prepared as far as knowing how to pitch them, and after that, it's a matter of executing your pitches, and obviously that didn't happen today."

Chicago took advantage of a pair of throwing erros -- one by McAllister in the first inning and another by catcher Carlos Santana in the third -- to score two of its four runs off the Indians' rookie starter. In the ninth inning, when Acta tried to squeeze a third inning out of reliever Jairo Asencio to rest his bullpen, the White Sox rallied again.

Asencio walked A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios before giving up a two-run single to Alexei Ramirez, trimming the Tribe's lead to 8-6. At that point, Acta handed the ball to Hagadone, who got the game's final three outs to avoid further harm.

Of course, the offensive cushion created against Humber went a long way.

"He threw some balls maybe in the middle of the plate," Hafner said. "We were able to take a lot of good swings, hit line drives. Our offense did a great job."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.