Gomez unable to locate against White Sox

Gomez unable to locate against White Sox

Gomez unable to locate against White Sox
CLEVELAND -- Every pitcher is entitled to a bad day at the office. It had just been a long time since Jeanmar Gomez last labored through an outing for the Indians. Since the onset of Spring Training, the right-hander has arguably been Cleveland's most reliable starter.

The law of averages caught up with Gomez on Wednesday night, when the White Sox drummed up an 8-1 lashing of the Tribe to wrap up Cleveland's homestand. As they headed to their flight to Boston, the Indians were left focusing on the fact that they did win four of the seven games in their latest stay in front of the locals.

In that way, it was a successful set of series against the Rangers and White Sox for a Cleveland club had has struggled to this point at home. Never mind the fact that -- following a rain delay that lasted roughly an hour -- Chicago pounded Gomez to the tune of eight runs and White Sox righty Jake Peavy turned in a vintage performance that had the Tribe's hitters handcuffed all night.

"It was just a bad evening," Indians outfielder Johnny Damon said. "It started with the delay and ended with Peavy throwing the ball very well."

In the middle, Gomez suffered his first poor outing since last September. Heading into Wednesday's start, the right-hander had fashioned a 2.14 ERA across 42 innings between Spring Training and the regular season. Gomez's sinker has been sharp and his slider stellar. Against the White Sox, though, his command went missing in action for too long.

Adam Dunn got Chicago rolling in the first inning, when he sent a 1-0 offering from Gomez into the right-center-field stands for a two-run home run -- the designated hitter's 10th of the season. That put the Indians (17-13) in a manageable 2-0 hole that was swiftly blown wide open with a six-run outpouring in the fourth inning.

"Gomez just couldn't throw strikes," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The first four innings, he struggled with his control to a point where, in the fourth inning, he had more balls than strikes thrown. When you're not overpowering, you're really not going to get away with it up here. They made him pay for it."

Chicago's fourth-inning rally against Gomez started with a leadoff walk to Dunn and ended -- eight batters later -- with a sacrifice fly from Gordon Beckham that put Cleveland behind, 8-0. Along the way, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez, Eduardo Escobar and Alejandro De Aza each came through with run-scoring hits.

Ramirez drilled a pitch from Gomez off the wall in left field, where Damon struggled to make a leaping grab. One run scored on the play to propel the White Sox (15-17) to a 4-0 lead, helping to open the floodgates in the process. Damon, who is still learning the ins and outs of manning left field in Cleveland, said he should have made the catch.

"I started my jump too soon," Damon said. "I definitely have to get better at going back on the ball. It seems like I'm all right coming in for the balls right now. Learning to play here, it is an adjustment, but we'll be fine."

Gomez said he simply lost control of his sinker in the fourth.

"I had one terrible inning," said Gomez, who slipped to 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA. "They hit a lot of balls. I made a couple mistakes up in the zone and I paid for them. When it happens, you can't do anything. I'll take the good things out of it and keep working, prepare for the next start.

"Every pitcher has a bad start. I had one today. I won't worry too much about that."

It was Gomez's worst outing since he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings on the road against the Tigers on Sept. 27 in his final start of 2011. Gomez posted a 1.37 ERA during Spring Training to win the fifth spot in the rotation and had a 2.82 regular-season ERA, entering Wednesday.

"It's been a while since he got roughed up," Acta said. "It's been a while since he gave up runs like he did tonight. It goes to show you, you do need to attack the strike zone and throw strikes."

The eight-run cushion was more than ample for Peavy, who improved to 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA for the White Sox. Over seven innings, the right-hander scattered seven hits, struck out five and issued just one walk. The Tribe's lone breakthrough against Peavy came courtesy of a run-scoring fielder's choice from Jason Donald in the seventh.

By then, the game was well out of reach for the Indians.

"Offensively, I felt like we did hit some balls hard at people, but we weren't as aggressive," Acta said. "Peavy was very aggressive. He threw a lot of strikes. There was one point in the game where he had 30 more strikes than balls. He just kept pounding the strike zone and we didn't do much about it."

The game may have been out of hand, but Gomez continued on for the Indians and finished admirably. Following the six-spot in the fourth inning, the right-hander got into a better rhythm and pitched into the seventh inning.

Overall, Gomez gave the Indians 6 2/3 innings, heading off the hill on the heels of a solid finish.

"He got better as he went on," Dunn said. "He has really good stuff. Every pitcher has a night like tonight where he made some bad pitches."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.