September 1, 2014

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White Sox 9, Indians 0: Tribe blanked in season

CLEVELAND — Another disappointing year ended in fitting fashion for the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday night.

Out of contention after an epic August collapse, Cleveland put the wraps on its fifth consecutive losing season with a lethargic and lopsided 9-0 loss to the White Sox.

Dan Johnson, who entered the night without a home run, hit three of them to pace the White Sox and help send the Indians into one more offseason of discontent.

“It’s a weird feeling because you’re so used to the routine of coming to the ballpark for a long period of time,” said interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who went 3-3 in place of Manny Acta and will interview for the fulltime job today. “All of a sudden, it’s gone. You have to wait another four months.

“It was a tough night. We couldn’t get anything going offensively. (Starting pitcher David) Huff didn’t have it tonight.”

The loss was a microcosm of the season for Cleveland, which was harpooned by shoddy starting pitching and a lack of offense for much of the year.

Huff, who had pitched well since joining the rotation in September, sputtered in his final outing, serving up two of Johnson’s homers and another long ball to Paul Konerko over 4 2/3 innings. He allowed seven runs (three earned) on nine hits.

“That’s definitely not the way you want to go out,” said Huff. “I felt great in the bullpen. I thought tonight was going to be a good night. To not have that transition to the field is very disappointing.

“I wasn’t hitting my spots with my fastball. My command was terrible.”

Chicago scored four times in the fifth to go up 7-0 and chase Huff. That was more than enough support for starting pitcher Gavin Floyd.

Floyd shut out the Indians on three hits over seven innings, retiring 12 straight after a walk to Russ Canzler in the opening inning.

There were few highlights for the Indians, but one arrived in the ninth inning, with designated hitter Travis Hafner logging what may have been his final at-bat as an Indian.

Hafner, who isn’t expected to return in 2013, received a standing ovation from the sparse crowd, stepping out of the batter’s box and tipping his helmet to the fans before popping out to third base.

“It was great,” Hafner said. “It’s something I’ll never forget. I just wanted to acknowledge them. They’ve been great to me. The city’s been great to me.”

Hafner, who hit a game-tying homer as a pinch hitter Tuesday night, wasn’t able to duplicate the feat, going 1-for-4 with a single.

“It wasn’t in the cards but it wasn’t for lack of effort,” Hafner said. “It was nice to contribute (Tuesday) night, but I really wanted to hit one tonight.”

Setup man Vinnie Pestano was able to notch his 70th appearance, but it ended poorly, with the right-hander allowing a pair of solo homers to Dayan Viciedo and Johnson in the ninth inning to provide the final count.

Pestano’s performance put a frustrating finish on a long season for the Indians, who were within contention, before posting the American League’s worst record in the second half (24-53).

“It was a disappointing season, but we’ll all go home and get rejuvenated,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “Hopefully we’ll come back next year and play with a little chip on our shoulders.”

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.