CLEVELAND -- It took exactly eight pitches in the fifth inning for the White Sox to unravel Monday afternoon during a 9-6 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. But in reality, the seeds already had been planted earlier in the inning prior to Cleveland taking control against a myriad
CLEVELAND -- It took exactly eight pitches in the fifth inning for the White Sox to unravel Monday afternoon during a 9-6 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. But in reality, the seeds already had been planted earlier in the inning prior to Cleveland taking control against a myriad bullpen options.
With Dylan Covey on the mound and the White Sox holding a 5-2 lead, catcher Alfredo Gonzalez dropped a Yan Gomes foul popup to start the frame. Gomes then reached on a throwing error by shortstop Tim Anderson, with first baseman Matt Skole unable to scoop the short-hop from Anderson from just outside the infield dirt.
Cleveland eventually loaded the bases with one out, but could not score when Jose Ramirez popped up Luis Avilan's 69-mph curve on the only pitch he threw in relief of Covey. Chris Volstad replaced Avilan and appeared to get out of the jam on Edwin Encarnacion's fly ball down the right-field line. But right fielder Daniel Palka and second baseman Yoan Moncada had a long distance to cover, and even with Palka getting to the ball, he couldn't hang on as the ball popped out of his mitt. The Indians scored three to tie the game on a play featuring a 2 percent hit probability per Statcast™.
Jace Fry became the fourth pitcher of the frame, and Yonder Alonso greeted him with a run-scoring double to give the Indians a 6-5 lead. Moncada's fielding error on Melky Cabrera's grounder, the team's third error in the fifth, completed the five-run rally.
"We bring in Luis, [he] gets a nice out. The fly ball, a tweener, both guys went after it pretty strongly," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "That was the moment for me to get us out of the inning and keep us there. It didn't work out."
Renteria won't get down on his team or give up on his team, knowing they are in the well-documented development phase for Year 2 of the rebuild. He felt Anderson's error was a tough call on the throw from short left field, but did acknowledge Palka should have called off Moncada on the foul popup that dropped.
"Absolutely. He'd be the first to tell you he should have kept it in his glove," Renteria said of Palka. "It's not an easy play by any means. Any one who has played baseball and goes a long distance to make a sliding catch, that's not an easy play. He's going to tell you he probably should have kept it in his glove."
Palka agreed with his manager's assessment.
"I was shifted out in the right-center gap and had a long way to go. The ball just popped out of my glove. That's pretty much it," Palka said. "I mean, the ball hit my glove, so it should have been caught."
The White Sox had looked fairly sharp up until that point. Skole, making his Major League debut after 2,500 Minor League at-bats, picked up his first career home run with a blast coming with one out in the fourth against Adam Plutko. Anderson followed with his 11th home run of the season.
Covey allowed five runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking three. Only two of the five runs were earned, with Covey throwing 48 of his 80 pitches for strikes. Covey still felt he had something left to stay out in the fateful fifth.
"I felt good, I felt strong," Covey said. " We had the lead at that point. Jose Ramirez was coming up, I think they just wanted to give him a look from a different side of the plate. I'm not upset about it. I felt good. Just didn't do enough things right today, like falling behind."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
That didn't work:Adam Engel and Charlie Tilson opened the seventh with singles off of Evan Marshall, part of the beleaguered Cleveland bullpen, giving the White Sox a chance to cut into a three-run deficit. But pinch-hitter Omar Narvaez hit into a double play and Moncada struck out to end the threat.
There were other firsts coming Monday along with Skole's home run and second-inning single for his first career hit. Tilson picked up his first career RBI with a second inning sacrifice fly, recorded his first career hit outside of Comerica Park with a seventh inning single and his first multi-hit effort. Fry allowed his first earned run of the 2018 season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Skole became the sixth player in franchise history to homer in his Major League debut. Skole joins Russ Morman (8/3/1986 vs. Detroit), Craig Wilson (9/5/1998 vs. the Yankees), Carlos Lee (5/7/1999 vs. the A's), Joe Borchard (9/2/2002 vs. the Blue Jays at then Skydome) and Miguel Olivo (9/15/2002 at Yankee Stadium).
HE SAID IT
"I just told myself it was the same game and just go out there and do what I've been doing, and I let my ability take over. I just happened to react, and once you get that first [hit] out of the way, you relax a little bit. The second one, I took some pitches and relaxed and just ended up getting a good pitch to hit. It was pretty cool."-- Skole, on his big league debut with two hits and a walk.
Jose Abreu started at designated hitter in Monday afternoon's series opener at Cleveland to get him off his feet, but look for Abreu to return to first base for Tuesday night's contest at Progressive Field with a first pitch at 5:10 p.m. CT. Lucas Giolito -- carrying a 7.53 ERA over nine starts -- gets the nod against the Mike Clevinger.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.