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Plutko struggles as Indians fall to White Sox

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Indians managed to go with four starters the last couple of times through the rotation thanks to two off-days last week. Their first time needing a fifth starter again did not go as planned.

Recalled from Triple-A Columbus before Tuesday's game against the White Sox, Adam Plutko struggled from the get-go at Guaranteed Rate Field. Plutko served up home runs to Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez on consecutive pitches leading off the first, and the Indians never recovered from the early deficit, losing 5-1.

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CHICAGO -- The Indians managed to go with four starters the last couple of times through the rotation thanks to two off-days last week. Their first time needing a fifth starter again did not go as planned.

Recalled from Triple-A Columbus before Tuesday's game against the White Sox, Adam Plutko struggled from the get-go at Guaranteed Rate Field. Plutko served up home runs to Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez on consecutive pitches leading off the first, and the Indians never recovered from the early deficit, losing 5-1.

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"It didn't look good early, and to his credit he stayed out there and got us to the fifth," manager Terry Francona said. "For about three innings there, he actually got a little rhythm going and was OK, but just coming out of the chute he just wasn't commanding like he needs to, and didn't have his breaking ball to get back in the counts and paid the price."

The White Sox clearly had Plutko's number early in the first inning. Aside from the back-to-back home runs, Daniel Palka crushed a ball that hooked foul and Matt Davidson hit a rocket for an RBI double off the center-field fence.

Video: CLE@CWS: Moncada, Sanchez go back-to-back in the 1st

Moncada, Sanchez and Davidson recorded 102.7 mph, 105.9 mph and 105.9 mph exit velocities, respectively, on their first-inning hits, putting the Indians in an early 3-0 hole.

"They were pretty aggressive early," Plutko said. "They were definitely more aggressive than I thought, but looking at a guy who's going to throw strikes, why wouldn't you be aggressive? So, I gotta do a better job of recognizing that early and try and work more to the edges of the plate."

Plutko appeared to settle in after pitching coach Carl Willis paid him a mound visit after Davidson's double. The young righty kept Cleveland within striking distance for most of his outing.

Plutko said Willis told him to "just settle down. Do what you do, you've been successful here before and just be confident in what you're doing."

However, things unraveled with two outs in the fifth. Palka worked a full-count walk and Plutko gave up doubles to the next two hitters -- Davidson and catcher Omar Narvaez. Plutko was then removed, unable to finish the fifth with the Indians trailing, 5-0.

Video: CLE@CWS: Davidson goes to center for 2nd RBI double

Zach McAllister came on in relief and retired all seven batters he faced, striking out three and matching his season-long outing. Entering Tuesday, McAllister owned a 6.08 ERA, but lowered that mark by more than half a run to 5.54 with his performance against the White Sox.

"Everything goes back to the confidence I have on the mound," McAllister said. "Every one of us knows the mechanics, knows what we have to do when we're out there, but if we don't believe in what you're gonna do out there, whether it's the pitch you throw, the location or the effort you have behind it, you're not gonna be successful.

"Being able to have the confidence in both [my fastball and breaking ball] is something that I'm extremely happy with where I'm at right now."

White Sox starter James Shields kept Cleveland off balance all night, giving up just one hit through five innings. He exited the game after seven innings, having allowed a run on four hits, and the Indians could not mount a comeback against the Chicago bullpen.

Video: CLE@CWS: Shields goes 7 strong innings of 1-run ball

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Indians had a chance to rally in the sixth inning when Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley reached base with one out. With the heart of the order coming up in Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland had an opportunity to finally get to Shields. Ramirez drove in Lindor from third with a sacrifice fly, but Encarnacion lifted a fly ball to left that fell easily into the glove of White Sox left fielder Charlie Tilson to end the threat.

Video: CLE@CWS: Lindor scores on Ramirez's sac fly

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ramirez made an impressive catch in foul territory to bail Plutko out of a fourth-inning jam. Moncada skied a ball into foul territory, as Ramirez wandered over to the railing just past the dugout, leaned into the crowd and came up with the catch. Plutko gave his third baseman a nice hand for his effort.

"As soon as he hit it, I thought it might have a chance to go there," Ramirez said, "But I knew the wall was there, so I knew it would be tough. So, I just did the best I could and I was able to catch it.

Video: CLE@CWS: Ramirez leans into stands for stellar grab

HE SAID IT
"He's doesn't have the same stuff that he once had, so he's learned how to be a pitcher, to live on the corners, to get guys to hit off his pitches and he's done a good job with it. He did a great job tonight, and as a team, we need to make an adjustment faster to that, we gotta not be chasing those types of pitches. We didn't make the adjustment fast enough, and he went out there and shoved it up ours, so we did a poor job as a lineup today." -- Jason Kipnis, who went 0-for-4, on Shields

UP NEXT
The Indians continue their series with the White Sox at 8:10 p.m. ET Wednesday and will send Trevor Bauer (5-4, 2.62 ERA) to the mound. Bauer threw one of his best games of the season last time out, going eight innings and giving up just one run on seven hits while striking out 12. Wednesday will be Bauer's first start against the White Sox this season. Chicago counters with Dylan Covey (2-1, 2.22), who outpitched Red Sox ace Chris Sale in his last start.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Cleveland Indians, Adam Plutko