CLEVELAND — It was a meaningless game for the Indians and a meaningful one for the White Sox.
Both teams filled their roles well.
With Chicago needing to win to stay alive in the race for the Central Division, the White Sox routed Cleveland 11-0 in the series opener Monday night at Progressive Field.
“They’re playing for their lives,” Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said of the White Sox. “We tried our best to stay in the game, but they had too much for us tonight.”
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In the end, though, it didn’t matter for Chicago, which entered the night trailing Detroit by three games in the division. The White Sox were eliminated when the Tigers beat Kansas City, 6-3.
Even with incentive, a win would have been a tall order for the Indians the way White Sox starter Hector Santiago was doing a number on them.
The left-hander didn’t allow a run and surrendered just a hit, while striking out a career-high 10 batters over seven innings. The Indians managed just two hits and put just four runners on base all night.
“This guy was nasty today,” Alomar Jr. said of Santiago, who retired the last 11 hitters he faced. “You’ve got to give the guy credit. He was throwing everything for a strike.”
A master of efficiency, Santiago threw 78 of his 108 pitches for strikes.
“He threw a lot of strikes,” said Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who struck out twice in his only at-bats against Santiago. “I was down 0-2 every time, it felt like.”
Indians starter Corey Kluber kept pace with Santiago over the first five innings, shutting out the White Sox on two hits.
But the right-hander unraveled in the sixth, with Chicago scoring four times on RBI singles from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo.
Chicago made it a rout with six runs in the ninth inning off relievers Esmil Rogers and Scott Maine.
In his final start of the season, Kluber allowed four runs on five hits over 5⅔ innings. He finished the year with a 2-5 record and 5.14 ERA in 12 starts, going winless in seven outings at Progressive Field.
When asked what he learned in his first extended stint in the big leagues, Kluber said, “That I’m good enough to pitch up here. There’s definitely some things I need to improve on, and some things I did improve on.”
Alomar Jr. sees Kluber contending for a spot in the rotation next year.
“He’s got good stuff,” Alomar Jr. said. “(The White Sox) were just able to get some pitches up in the zone.”
Indians fans may have seen the last of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera for the season. Already nursing wrist and back injuries, Cabrera left the game in the eighth inning after being hit on the right hand by a pitch in the fourth.
“He’s a little sore,” Alomar Jr. said. “We’re not going to force somebody to go out there and play with two games left when he’s sore.”