White Sox beat Indians 1-0 for doubleheader split
CLEVELAND (AP)—Unwavering to the end, Eric Wedge sat stoically behind his office desk wearing Cleveland’s white uniform and blue cap with the smiling Chief Wahoo logo.
As reporters crowded around, Wedge dutifully discussed another Indians loss — his last game at home.
He praised his starting pitcher, complimented Chicago’s and then offered a polite thank you.
Then, it was goodbye.
Cleveland will have a new manager next season.
Wedge’s seven-year run in Cleveland reached an unusual conclusion at home on Wednesday when he and his coaching staff were fired in the final days of a crashed season and just hours before a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians won the opener 5-1 before dropping the second game 1-0 in a finale like so many other Cleveland losses this season.
It was a strange ending for Wedge, who despite losing his job, will finish the season.
Wedge is going out with his head held high.
“We had a lot of games here,” he said. “We had a lot of great days here. A lot of great players have come through here. They’ll keep going and I’ll keep going.”
Buehrle (13-10) outdueled Justin Masterson(notes) (4-10) and sent Wedge off on a final road trip to Boston’s Fenway Park, where the Indians played for the AL title just two years ago, with another tough loss to ponder.
It’s been a tough year for a club that was expected to contend in the AL Central but crumbled instead.
Once the Indians fell from contention and traded reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee(notes) and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez(notes) in July, the club asked Wedge to try and win while developing young players. Even after he was dismissed, Wedge hasn’t deviated from his mission.
“My focus right now is on these last four games and making sure good things happen, like with Masterson,” he said. “What a great night for him. That’s what it’s all about.”
Wedge kept his emotions in check as he left Progressive Field.
“This is where my home is,” he said. “This stadium and this city mean a great deal to me.”
Cleveland finished 35-46 at home, the club’s worst mark since 1991 when the Indians lost a franchise-record 105 games and finished at the bottom of the East. The Indians also drew 1,766,242 fans, their lowest total since 1992 when they were at the old Municipal Stadium.
Buehrle allowed three hits—two in the first—and struck out three in one of his best performances since his perfect game on July 23.
Masterson was better. He struck out 12, the most by a Cleveland right-hander since Bartolo Colon(notes) fanned 13 at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 18, 2000. Masterson, who came over in a deadline deal with Boston, gave up four hits in his first career complete game.
He is the first Indians pitcher to strike out at least 12 in a 1-0 complete-game loss since Sam McDowell in 1968.
“I wanted to end on a strong note and have something to take into spring training,” Masterson said. “I feel good about that. It was a strange day. We played two games of baseball in about five hours and had everything else going on, but kept battling.”
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had nothing but praise for Wedge.
“It was the last time to manage against his ballclub,” Guillen said. “That’s part of the game. I feel for him, of course. He’s a great man and a great baseball person. I wish him the best of luck. He will get another job.”
Buehrle had struggled since throwing the 18th perfect game in history against Tampa Bay.
The Indians were fortunate to get a pair of two-out hits off Buehrle in the first. After that, the left-hander dominated them.
With two down, Shin Soo-Choo singled and Jhonny Peralta(notes) doubled. Matt LaPorta(notes) then grounded out on a ball that deflected off Buehrle’s glove to second baseman Brent Lillibridge(notes), ending Cleveland’s only threat.
The White Sox weren’t having much more success against Masterson, who matched Buehrle pitch for pitch until Konerko singled in a run in the sixth. DeWayne Wise(notes) led off with a double over the head of center fielder Trevor Crowe(notes). Masterson retired the next two before Konerko bounced a hit through the middle.
Travis Hafner(notes) homered in the opener for Cleveland. The designated hitter, whose injuries have contributed to Cleveland’s slide in the standings, was pleased he could hit one on the day Wedge was released.
“Wedge and I came to town the same year,” he said. “He has taught me a lot about the game and life as well. It’s been a tough day.”
NOTES: Masterson is 0-6 in his last seven starts. … Buehrle is the only active pitcher to throw at least 200 innings in each of the past nine seasons. … The last time the Indians finished their home schedule with a doubleheader was in 1972 against Baltimore. … Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) left in the fifth inning of the opener with tightness in his right hamstring and did not play in the second game.