Runs have been hard to come by for both teams. The Indians’ nemesis has been Jose Quintana, who gave up two runs and four hits in five innings Wednesday as the Sox eked out a 3-2 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
Quintana had a scoreless streak of 18⅔ innings broken in the sixth inning, when he grudgingly gave up two runs.
In the previous series between the teams in Cleveland, Quintana (2-0, 2.78 ERA) gave up one hit in seven shutout innings, but Nick Swisher delivered an RBI single in the ninth against the bullpen to give the Indians a 1-0 win.
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Except for the Indians’ 9-4 rout against Sox ace Chris Sale, neither team has mounted much in the way of sustained rallies. In the other four games, each club has won twice. Setting aside the Indians’ one offensive outburst, the Indians are averaging 1.75 runs per game, the Sox 2.
When teams are struggling to score, usually there is a hard-luck loser to console. On Wednesday, that was Zach McAllister, who gave up all the runs in 5⅔ innings. McAllister allowed five hits, but he also walked five, and his first walk turned into a run.
Leading off the first inning, McAllister walked Alejandro De Aza, who stole second and scored on a single by Jeff Keppinger.
“There were four or five pitches that could have gone either way,” McAllister said of the walks. “I don’t think I let the walks affect me. I just thought I would get the next guy. But I didn’t make enough adjustments to the strike zone today.”
With two out in the fifth, Keppinger singled and Alex Rios drove a fastball over the wall in left for his sixth home run of the season. That turned out to be game, set and match.
“I didn’t think it was a bad pitch,” said McAllister, who fell to 1-3 with a 3.52 ERA. “It was up and in. I’m not necessarily surprised he hit it, but I’m surprised that he hit it that hard. He got me today, and it’s frustrating.”
Quintana retired nine batters in a row before giving up a hit, a single to Michael Bradley leading off the fourth inning. That was the inning it appeared the Indians would break through against Quintana, because one out later, Mark Reynolds doubled Brantley to third, and Nick Swisher walked to load the bases.
But Ryan Raburn followed by bouncing into a double play to end the inning.
“I was trying to be the hero and do too much,” Raburn said. “It’s an at-bat I’d like to have over again.”
Even in the sixth, when the Indians scored their only runs, Quintana didn’t let them pound him silly. A leadoff walk to Drew Stubbs and Brantley’s single put runners on first and third with nobody out.
Jason Kipnis followed with an RBI single, and Quintana gave way to Nate Jones, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Reynolds.
The Indians almost were able to steal another run, because Kipnis stole second and third, but Swisher struck out on a 3-and-2 pitch and Raburn flied out.
“Take away the one bad pitch to Rios and we’re winning that game,” Kipnis said. “There are a couple of times we haven’t gotten McAllister the run support he deserves.”
Quintana has given up two runs, five hits and two walks in 12 innings against the Indians.
“He made pitches when he had to,” Raburn said. “We tried to get him to make mistakes, but he didn’t make them.”
Watching Quintana from the dugout, manager Terry Francona drew these conclusions: “He’s pitching with a lot of confidence. And he does a lot of everything out there. He uses the whole plate, goes up and down, and he’s got that cutter.”
An umpire’s call might have had an effect on the Indians’ offense when Lonnie Chisenhall lined a ball almost directly over first base, and Paul Schrieber called it foul.
“I’m going by Lonnie and (first-base coach) Mike Sarbaugh,” Francona said, referring to the fact that neither argued the point, which precluded the manager from taking up the cause, since he did not get a good look at it.
Francona said that others, who watched the replay, thought it was a fair ball. On the other hand, there already was one out in the inning, and there is no guarantee Quintana would have folded at that point.