Back-to-back blasts come with two outs in fifth; Axelrod strong in start
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Josh Phegley wasn't even supposed to start Friday's 2-2 tie with the Indians at Camelback Ranch.
The White Sox originally had Tyler Flowers behind the plate, but with Flowers set to catch Chris Sale on Saturday night, the team made a late change to give Phegley a few extra at-bats. The move paid dividends.
Phegley doubled in the third and then homered in the fifth as a major part of the five-hit attack against Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin. Phegley appears to be in a battle for the backup catcher spot behind Flowers, and did nothing to hurt his cause by guiding Dylan Axelrod through three scoreless innings.
Tomlin stands in a roster battle of his own, competing with Carlos Carrasco for the fifth spot in the Indians' rotation. The right-hander retired the first eight hitters before yielding Phegley's double in the third. The game was scoreless until the fifth when Conor Gillaspie went deep with two outs and Phegley followed.
"That pitch to Gillaspie, I was trying to go in there, trying to cut the ball in there. And he did a good job of dropping the head on it and hit it for a home run," Tomlin said. "The curveball to Phegley just caught too much plate. I thought it was a little bit up. Just didn't get it where I wanted to. I was trying to get a little more of a chase pitch, and it just stayed in the zone and he put a pretty good swing on it."
Over five innings of work, Tomlin fanned five and didn't issue a walk.
Erik Johnson, who was scheduled to throw Friday, was moved to a Minor League contest so as not to face the Indians. Axelrod yielded two hits and two walks in his place.
"I always feel like I'm the guy who has to prove himself," Axelrod said. "So in that regard, it's the same sort of thing. I guess even now, I have a little more of the chip on my shoulder or something. I know I have to do the same thing I've always done and work real hard."
Cleveland scored a run in the seventh off of Jake Petricka on a David Cooper double, a groundout and a passed ball. Cooper then tied the game in the eighth with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
Up next: The White Sox play their lone Cactus League night game Saturday, with a 9:05 p.m. CT first pitch (live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio) at Camelback Ranch, and this contest with the Dodgers features two of the best starters in Major League Baseball. Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for Los Angeles, while Sale makes his fourth spring start for the White Sox. Flowers will be behind the plate, after he was replaced by Phegley in Friday's lineup to give Phegley more at-bats.