White Sox end Tribe slide behind Abreu
Slugger hits two homers to help snap club's 14-game skid vs. Indians
CHICAGO -- There wasn't much for the White Sox to joke about during the 2013 season.
Not with 99 losses. Not with the way some of those 99 losses came about.
But where a dismal 2-17 record against the Indians was concerned, the White Sox found some way to laugh at themselves.
"We joked we deserved a playoff share from them for basically helping them into the playoffs," said White Sox starter John Danks with a bit of a resigned smile.
The White Sox (5-5) didn't have to wait long to exorcise this piece of '13 pain.
Behind Danks, two homers and three RBIs from Jose Abreu and two hits and three RBIs from Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox claimed a 7-3 victory over the Indians (5-5) at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday. The victory snapped a 14-game losing streak against the Indians, marking the South Siders' first head-to-head victory since April 24, to be exact, at the start of this seven-game homestand.
This victory came just hours after learning right fielder Avisail Garcia was lost for the season due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder. So it was a morale boost on a couple of different fronts.
"It is sad and it's difficult, and especially because we had a really good relationship," said Abreu of losing Garcia, through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "These are some of those things that life throws a lot and we are not expecting."
"You feel bad for Avi. He's a great kid, great teammate, great player. Hopefully this isn't too much of a setback for him," Danks said. "It's tough, having been through shoulder stuff, I don't wish that on anybody. He's young enough, and hopefully it's something he can get through fairly quickly and be ready for next year. Certainly breaks our hearts to hear the news, but we wish him nothing but the best, obviously."
Ending this 14-game losing streak didn't look entirely possible early on, as the Indians pushed across two runs in the first inning against Danks and had Danny Salazar on the mound. Salazar struck out 10 White Sox on Thursday, giving him 27 punchouts lifetime against the club in just 12 2/3 innings.
But even with those 10 strikeouts, Salazar didn't make it through the fourth. When the White Sox made contact, they made it count over Salazar's 3 2/3 innings, as he became the first pitcher to strike out 10 in an outing fewer than four innings in the modern era, per The Elias Sports Bureau.
Meanwhile, Danks (1-0) settled down and limited the Indians to Asdrubal Cabrera's homer over his final five innings of work to go with four strikeouts and two walks.
"I feel like third inning on, I was able to throw the ball where I wanted to," said Danks, who threw 62 of his 99 pitches for strikes. "I kept it down a little better, was getting some ground balls. It was kind of a tale of two games, but like I said, I've never had a bad win."
"They got the lead and he settled in and started kind of adding and subtracting, expanded the plate a little bit and started throwing that changeup, then he'd throw that cutter in on our righties, does what he does," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona of Danks. "Early in the game he made a couple of mistakes and we made him pay for it, then he settled in by just adding and subtracting."
Abreu launched a solo homer in the second and again in the fifth, giving him four for the season and two multihomer efforts in his last three games. The White Sox didn't have Abreu last year in their battles with the Indians, and they didn't have this current offense with the potential to come back from any deficit.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura quipped that he has been working in the batting cage with Abreu lately to explain his recent power surge. But there's actually a much simpler reason for Abreu's success.
"He's just really good," Ventura said. "That's the simple fact, is he's a good hitter."
"Me and [Chris Sale] were talking. We want to go thank [general manager] Rick [Hahn] right now for signing him," said Danks of Abreu. "He's fun to watch, and it's scary but he's only going to get better."
Ramirez homered in the third and doubled home two runs in the fourth, giving him hits in all 10 games this season. Daniel Webb picked up Danks with two scoreless innings of relief, and Matt Lindstrom added a scoreless ninth to close out the victory.
One small step for a resilient White Sox team that has scored five or more runs in seven of its first 10 games this season. Next on the agenda is putting together a winning streak against the Indians.
"Even when we get down there's a feeling that you're going to scratch away and get some opportunities and come through, and they execute," Ventura said. "They just have that feeling like they're going to fight back and scratch something out.
"Tonight was the same way. I think Johnny didn't start off that great for him, but he clawed his way through it and fought and battled for us to be able to come back."