Indians 7, White Sox 2
CLEVELAND (AP)—Victor Martinez doesn’t fit the profile of a typical cleanup hitter—until he swings his bat.
Martinez, whose AL-high 10 RBIs in his five previous games, made him a co-winner of the league’s player of the week award, hit an RBI double in the first inning and a two-run single in the second off Felix Diaz (0-1).
In 13 starts since Martinez was moved into the Indians’ cleanup spot on May 3, the switch-hitting catcher is batting .333 (18-for-54) with 21 RBIs.
“He showed in the minors he can hit,” Indians second baseman Ronnie Belliard said of Martinez, a two-time league batting champion before making it to the majors. “He can hit right-handers or left-handers.
“He’s just raking.”
Lee (5-0) gave up one run and two hits in the first and nothing else to the White Sox, who made three errors. He walked three, struck out three and became the first Cleveland starter to go 5-0 since Dennis Martinez went 9-0 in 1995.
“It couldn’t have gone any better for me,” Lee said.
Chicago has dropped seven of 10.
The start was delayed 1 hour, 29 minutes by thunderstorms, and the game was stopped again by rain for another 34 minutes in the bottom of the fifth.
Diaz was roughed up in his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. Pitching on just three days’ rest, he allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.
“Pitching sets the tone and we did not do that today,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “You have to throw strikes and if you don’t, you get hurt.”
Cleveland came close to chasing the right-hander in the first, scoring three runs on five hits.
Singles by Matt Lawton and Omar Vizquel put runners at first and third for Martinez, whose double tied it 1-1.
At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Martinez might not have the bulging biceps and big bat of a typical major league cleanup hitter, but he’s producing like one.
His two RBIs in the second put the Indians ahead 5-1 and gave him 13 in six games.
Indians manager Eric Wedge moved Martinez into the cleanup spot, hoping he could balance Cleveland’s lineup. He seems to have gotten the symmetry he wanted thanks to Martinez, whose 30 RBIs are third-most in the AL.
“He goes up there to hit,” Wedge said. “He doesn’t get caught up in the situation and focuses on what he needs to do from pitch to pitch.”
Hafner followed with a two-run single, giving him six RBIs in his last four at-bats and the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Chicago got its other run in the eighth on pinch-hitter Ross Gload’s firsthomer.
During the pregame delay, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle entertained the crowd with two dashes and headfirst dives (more like flops) across the rain-soaked tarp. … Thomas’ RBI was the 1,408th of his career, putting him in 57th place. Mark McGwire is 56th with 1,414. … Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard was credited with a single in the sixth on a grounder that got stuck in the webbing of 3B Joe Crede’s glove. … The Indians have outscored teams 31-7 in the second inning this season. … Terry Clark, pitching coach for the Indians’ Triple-A team in Buffalo, was fired Monday. The Bisons have the second-worst ERA in the 14-team International League and are off to their worst start since1987.