CLEVELAND – Terry Francona’s positive messages aren’t working. His time-tested tolerance is being tried.
The Indians aren’t hitting or scoring or looking anything like a team capable of winning many games in May or June, never mind in October.
The outlook isn’t promising, but Francona said panicking isn’t the answer.
“That’s not easiest thing to do,” he said after Cleveland was blanked 2-0 by the White Sox on Tuesday night. “You show up and you want to win so bad, but sometimes you got to be patient even when you don’t want to be.”
Lucas Giolito carried a shutout into the eighth inning, and closer Alex Colomé pitched out of an eventful jam as the Sox recorded their first shutout of 2019.
Giolito (3-1) didn’t have to work hard against the Indians, who came in batting an American League-low .213 – 13 points lower than the next closest team, and 62 behind the league-leading Houston Astros.
The powerless Indians wasted a strong outing by starter Jefry Rodriguez (0-2) and were shut out for the second time in three games. Cleveland has scored one run in the past 27 innings.
Giolito, who allowed only three hits, retired the leadoff hitter to start the eighth. The right-hander was lifted after 105 pitches for Jace Fry, who got the second out before the Indians loaded the bases on a single, double and walk.
Sox closer Alex Colomé came in and appeared to get two quick strikes on Carlos Santana. But third base umpire Marty Foster ruled Santana checked his swing on a 0-1 pitch, and ejected manager Rick Renteria, who came out of the dugout and argued along with waving his arms in disgust.
“There was no need for me to stay out there and argue the point,” Renteria said. “I’ve got my closer in there ready to pitch. It would have been foolish for me to stay out there and let him cool down under the circumstances. I know I shared my disgust. They’re human beings.”
They’re doing the best that they can.
“They didn’t see it that way. It’s over. It’s done.”
Colomé then struck out Santana, freezing him on a 3-2 pitch that appeared low. The right-hander then worked the ninth for his seventh save in seven tries.
The Indians managed just five hits – three by Francisco Lindor, and two by Jason Kipnis.
Cleveland had scoring chances in the fourth, sixth and eighth with Santana at the plate. He’s been their best hitter all season, but couldn’t come through.
“That’s kind of the way the game goes when you hit a little bit of a rough patch,” Francona said.
Connecting Cleveland’s past and present, Major League Baseball introduced Lindor, Hall of Famer Jim Thome and former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. as ambassadors for this year’s All-Star Game scheduled in town for July 9.
They’ll represent the club at community and promotional events leading up to All-Star activities.
The trio of stars surprised a group of youngsters invited to play Tuesday in a pickup game at Progressive Field. When Alomar, who was the All-Star MVP in 1997 when it was last hosted by Cleveland, clobbered a pitch over everyone’s heads, Thome rounded third and said, “Just like old times.”
Thome and Alomar were teammates on Cleveland’s powerhouse teams in the 1990s.
The Sox improved to 3-1 against the Indians. The Sox were 5-14 against the three-time defending AL Central champions a year ago.
James McCann drove in one of the Sox’s runs with a single in the sixth. He’s batting .422 (19 of 45) with nine RBIs in his past 11 games.
White Sox: RHP Kelvin Herrera (lower back stiffness) was unavailable for the second straight game. He allowed a career-high five runs in 2/3 of an inning Sunday against Boston.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger (back strain) continues to make solid progress toward a return. He’s throwing two straight days and taking a day off. Francona said Clevinger, who has been out since April 7, should be throwing bullpens in the “not-too-distant future.”
White Sox: RHP Reynaldo López (2-4, 6.69 ERA) is 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA in three career starts against Cleveland. He hasn’t won on the road since Sept. 15 against Baltimore.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (2-1, 3.16 ERA) pitched a career-high 7 2/3 innings against Seattle in his last start Friday. As a rookie last season, he went 1-0 and didn’t allow an earned run in 12 2/3 innings against the Sox.