Tribe throttled by back-to-wall White Sox

Tribe throttled by back-to-wall White Sox

Tribe throttled by back-to-wall White Sox
CLEVELAND -- Two more days and both the Indians and White Sox will head home for the winter. Cleveland's chances of postseason contention have long passed. Chicago's hopes of bringing a title back to the Windy City were officially dashed on Monday night.

Neither team wanted things to conclude like this.

"I'm not ready for the end of the year," Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said.

The Indians were unable to bounce the White Sox from contention on their own, given the stellar showing by Chicago lefty Hector Santiago and the surplus of support he received in an 11-0 rout at Progressive Field. No, the Tigers took care of that end of the equation.

In Kansas City, Detroit took down the Royals, 6-3, to clinch the American League Central crown for the second straight season. One week ago, the White Sox were atop the division, but that was before they dropped five of the past six games heading into this three-game set.

For the Indians and White Sox -- along with the Royals and Twins -- there is always next year.

"It's disappointing, because you could have done better," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But I'm not disappointed in these guys. You end up where you're supposed to end up. The effort was there -- just came up short."

Cleveland was more than aware what was on the line Monday.

"Chicago is playing for their lives," Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "The only control they have is what they're doing against us. Everyone is scoreboard watching."

There are days when a ballclub's offense simply can't find a rhythm.

There have been far too many of those days against lefties this season for the Indians.

Santiago led the charge for Chicago, holding the Indians to just one hit -- a two-out single by Shin-Soo Choo in the third inning -- over seven stellar innings. He issued one walk and ended with a career-high 10 strikeouts, the most in a game by a White Sox rookie since Jason Bere fanned 12 Angels on Sept. 20, 1993.

With the loss, the Indians fell to 18-36 this season against left-handed starters.

Alomar said his throwing hand was hardly the issue.

"This guy was nasty tonight," Alomar said. "Give him credit. He kept the ball down. He used more breaking balls tonight. He had a great screwball, which not many lefties have. We couldn't put any good at-bats together against him. We couldn't eliminate any pitches, because he was throwing them all for strikes."

Entering Monday's meeting, Cleveland (67-93) ranked 13th in the AL with a .237 average against southpaws. The Tribe's .357 slugging percentage was last in the league. The Indians did hit .365 off lefties in the previous nine games, but it has remained an area of weakness.

Chisenhall echoed Alomar's assessment of Santiago's performance.

"He threw a ton of strikes," Chisenhall said. "He was throwing his cutter for strikes, and his fastball and slider to me. I can speak to that. I was down 0-2 every time, it felt like. He did a good job of getting the ball over the plate."

Indians rookie starter Corey Kluber (2-5) took the loss after being charged with four runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings against the White Sox (84-76). Kluber blanked Chicago's bats for the first five frames before finally flinching in the sixth.

With one out, Dewayne Wise singled and stole second base, later crossing the plate on a single from Adam Dunn. Two batters later, Alex Rios put Chicago up by two with an RBI base hit of his own. Reliever Joe Smith then entered and yielded back-to-back run-scoring singles to A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo to put the Tribe behind, 4-0.

It was the final start of 12 made in the big leagues this year for Kluber, who showed sound progress over the past two months. The right-hander did not hesitate when asked what he learned in his time with the Tribe this season.

"That I'm good enough to pitch up here," said Kluber.

After Kluber's exit, Alexei Ramirez added an RBI single off Indians rookie Cody Allen in the eighth and the White Sox exploded for six more runs in the ninth inning. Viciedo highlighted the late outburst with a grand slam off reliever Esmil Rogers.

It was all too overwhelming for the Indians.

"We tried to do our best to stay in the game," Alomar said. "But they were too much for us."

Maybe so, but both teams will be watching the playoffs from home.

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.