White Sox hammer Jimenez, Indians
CHICAGO – For the next 15 games against AL Central opponents, the White Sox, the unlikely early season division leaders, need to keep the wins coming.
The Sox started the tough stretch by seizing their opportunities against starter Ubaldo Jimenez and the Indians striking for four runs in the third inning en route to a 7-2 win in a game that started almost an hour late because of rain.
Every Sox batted in the third sparked by Gordon Beckham’s leadoff home run, his first of the season and part of a three-hit night for him. For the first time since 2002, the Sox opened the season 3-0 versus Cleveland.
“That’s just a part of believing in himself and keep working at it,” manager Robin Ventura said of Beckham. “It’s just nice to see it does pay off. He hasn’t gone down that path of not believing in himself, so that’s definitely a positive.”
The Sox (12-11) didn’t need a spectacular outing from starter Chris Sale with the offense providing plenty of support, but the lefty continued his stellar transition to the rotation. Sale (3-1) allowed one run on three hits in six innings, striking out three and walking one batter. Sox starters have surrendered two earned runs or less in seven of their past 10 outings.
“It takes a tremendous amount of pressure off me when we go out and swing the bats the way we did,” Sale said. “It was fun to watch. It’s easier to pitch in those games when you’ve got a six-, seven-run lead.”
The Sox loaded the bases after Beckham’s third-inning homer, and with Paul Konerko at the plate with no outs, Jimenez (2-2) walked him on five pitches, forcing in a run. Although the Sox didn’t deliver a gut-punch hit, Alex Rios’ fielder’s choice and Dayan Viciedo’s single gave the Sox a comfortable 5-1 lead after three innings. They added a run in the fourth and fifth innings and with Sale dealing, it was all the Sox needed.
The Indians’ lone run off Sale came courtesy of Viciedo’s misplay in left field. Viciedo misread Jason Kipnis’ fly ball and the mistake allowed Shelley Duncan to score from second to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead in the second.
Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski continued his power surge crushing his fifth homer, a solo blast to right field that tied the game, 1-1. Pierzynski didn’t hit his fifth homer last season until July 29.
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