Indians 5, White Sox 0
Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: Tigers could dominate Central
CLEVELAND (AP)—Sometimes even Jake Westbrook isn’t sure which pitcher will show up when he takes the mound.
“I’ve been good, bad, good, bad,” he said.
On Wednesday night, the good Westbrook made the Chicago White Sox look bad.
Westbrook pitched seven scoreless innings and Cleveland’s bullpen finished up the Indians’ third shutout in seven games, a 5-0 victory over the White Sox, who were blanked for the first time this season.
Relying on his trusty sinker whenever he needed an out, Westbrook (5-3) allowed six hits—five singles—didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. The White Sox, who won the series opener 11-0, haven’t scored in the last 15 innings and were held without a run for the first time since Sept. 21.
“With their lineup, you cannot lose focus and you have to make good pitches,” said Westbrook, who is 2-0 against Chicago in 2006. “Hopefully I can build off this.”
Grady Sizemore went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, a triple and a steal, and Ben Broussard homered on a 3-0 pitch from Freddy Garcia (7-3) for the Indians, who despite two inconsistent months are back at .500 (26-26).
“I think with the pitching staff and the players they have, there’s no doubt they’ll be in the pennant race,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “There’s a lot of time left. A lot of people here are panicking, but when I look around as an opposing manager, they have some pretty good ballplayers.
“If their pitching hangs on, they’re going to be there.”
The White Sox could do little more than pound Westbrook’s nose-diving sinker into the dirt around home plate as the right-hander recorded 14 of his 21 outs on grounders—most of them easy ones.
Chicago’s best scoring chance came in the first, but was easily snuffed out by Westbrook. Alex Cintron singled and hustled to third when second baseman Lou Merloni couldn’t field Jim Thome’s hot smash toward right that was scored a single.
“That gave me a confidence boost right there,” Westbrook said, “and I got stronger as the game went on.”
Protecting a 3-0 lead in the seventh, Westbrook got two more groundouts and fanned Juan Uribe, his final batter, before accepting high-fives when he got to the dugout. The Indians then made him more welcome by scoring two runs to make it 5-0.
Garcia gave up eight hits and five runs in 6 1-3 innings. He has lost two straight starts after winning seven consecutive decisions.
Broussard snapped an 0-for-13 slump and gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the second. Ahead in the count to Garcia, Broussard got the green light to swing away on 3-0 and made the most of it, lining his sixth homer into the Indians’ bullpen in center.
“That was big for me,” Broussard said. “I needed to get any kind of hit there.”
Jason Michaels hit one just as hard off the top of the left-field wall— inches from being a homer—in the third for an RBI double to make it 2-0.
The Indians tacked on another run in the third as Aaron Boone singled, moved up on Merloni’s sacrifice and scored on Sizemore’s single.
Sizemore’s RBI triple in the seventh chased Garcia, who came in 3-0 with a 0.80 ERA in his previous three starts at Jacobs Field. Cleveland’s lead went to 5-0 when Michaels hit a comebacker off reliever Cliff Politte’s glove, scoring Sizemore.
Garcia didn’t allow a walk in five of his six starts in May, and walked just one in 41 1-3 innings. … The New York Yankees are the only AL team not to be shut out this season. … Guillen, who will manage the AL All-Star team, isn’t surprised that none of his players lead in the first fan voting totals released Wednesday. “We don’t have popular people,” he said. “Fans vote for guys they’ve known for a long time.” Guillen joked that he’ll find his way around the system. “When I pick the team there will be a lot of White Sox players in there. They’ll be ripping me all over the country.” … Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard didn’t start as manager Eric Wedge wanted to get him some rest. Merloni replaced him and went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice before Belliard came in to pinch run in the seventh.