July 28, 2014

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McAllister solid, Adams hit hard in debut as Indians bounced by White Sox

CLEVELAND — Zach McAllister’s first time back on a big league mound went relatively well Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field. Austin Adams’ major league debut? Not so much.

McAllister pitched well, but a lack of offense and a forgettable outing from Adams spelled defeat for the Indians, who dropped a 6-2 decision to the White Sox in front of 23,837 fans.

The Indians trailed by a run when manager Terry Francona called on Adams, a right-hander, who was promoted from Triple-A Columbus on Friday, to start the ninth inning.

Adams allowed hits to the first three batters he faced, with Gordon Beckham’s two-run double extending Chicago’s lead to 5-2. The White Sox’s final run was charged to Adams as well.

Francona was asked what he liked about Adams in that situation, though he had nearly everyone else in his bullpen available.

“What I didn’t want to do is let him go until next week without pitching,” said Francona, whose club slipped below the .500 level at 46-47 — 7½ games behind first-place Detroit — with one game to play prior to the All-Star break. “We had the bottom of the order. It was a clean inning and it didn’t work very well.”

Much of what McAllister threw worked well, with the right-hander lasting seven innings and allowing three runs on only four hits. A two-run home run from Chicago’s Jose Abreu scored the first runs of the game in the fourth, while an RBI single off the right-field wall from Adam Dunn put the Sox in front 3-0 in the sixth.

“I thought I got into a good groove today. I made a couple bad pitches that really hurt me,” said McAllister, who was recalled from Columbus prior to the game, following nearly a two-month stay at the Triple-A level. “Overall, I was able to get a lot of ground balls. I was extremely happy with it. Obviously, it would have been a lot better if we would have been able to get the W.
It’s a good step in the right direction.”

“He was pretty effective,” Francona said of McAllister, who fell to 3-5 with a 5.63 ERA in 11 starts. “I thought he did OK. When he locates his fastball, he’s very effective.”

Chicago’s starting pitcher, right-hander Scott Carroll, was more effective, shutting Cleveland out on two hits over five innings, before departing with lower-back stiffness.

“He stayed down the entire day and got us to expand outside of the zone,” Francona said. “It wasn’t overwhelming velocity but he really stayed down. For the first five innings, we didn’t do much.”

The Indians managed just two hits over the first six innings — consecutive two-out singles from Mike Aviles and Jason Kipnis in the third.

Cleveland’s first run came on Kipnis’ bases-loaded walk in the seventh, with Michael Brantley providing the other on his team-leading 14th homer to start the eighth.

“(McAllister) threw the ball well,” Brantley said. “As an offense, we’ve got to pick him up. He kept us in the game. He had some quick innings and we didn’t capitalize on the offensive side.”

Brantley’s power numbers are up substantially. His 14 homers over 89 games is already a career-high for the All-Star outfielder, who entered the season with 26 homers over four years. Brantley has 63 RBIs after driving in 60 in 2012 and 73 in 2013.

“I just try to put the barrel on the ball as much as possible,” he said. “I don’t have a reason why. I’m older, I’m smarter, I work hard. I’ve said this before, I’m not a home run hitter. I put good swings on the ball and whatever happens after that is out of my control.”

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