CLEVELAND – Who would have thought the Indians’ fifth starter would pitch like their ace?
That’s the way things have played out this season, with rookie right-hander Mitch Talbot shining brighter than any other pitcher in the rotation, and adding another gem to an already sparkling resume Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Talbot allowed just two runs on six hits over seven innings to outduel former Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy and the White Sox and help Cleveland to a 7-3 victory over Chicago.
He returned to his role as the Indians’ resident skid stopper, winning for the fifth time following a loss.
“Talbot was fantastic,” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “That’s what’s so great about this game. On any given night a guy like Mitch can beat a guy like Peavy.
“I think Mitch deserves all the credit. He didn’t make us play catch up and gave us a chance to score some runs.”
Talbot (6-3, 3.73 ERA) shut out the Sox on just two hits over the first six innings before running into his only trouble of the night in a two-run seventh inning for Chicago.
The White Sox produced four doubles in the inning but Talbot still kept the damage to a minimum.
“Tonight was one of those nights where everything felt like it was there,” said Talbot, who threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 25 hitters he faced. “It’s fun to pitch on those nights.”
The Indians backed Talbot with some rare offensive support, scoring six times off Peavy over six innings.
A solo home run from shortstop Jason Donald to lead off the third got the Indians started, with Cleveland scoring three times in the inning, once on another solo shot from Shin-Soo Choo.
“It was exciting to see Jason Donald do that,” Acta said. “He lit a fire there.”
It was the first career homer for the 25-year-old Donald, who was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to fill in for an injured Asdrubal Cabrera.
“I think that’s the best I got in me, so if that didn’t get out, I don’t know,” Donald said of his drive to left field that traveled an estimated 388 feet on an 0-1 pitch from Peavy. “(Peavy) is one of the best arms in the game. I just feel real fortunate. It’s something I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.”
The Indians put up another three-run inning in the sixth, Austin Kearns, Russell Branyan and Jhonny Peralta reaching base to lead things off. Peralta’s double drove in the first run, while sacrifice fly balls from Luis Valbuena and Lou Marson plated the other two. Valbuena drove in a pair of runs on sacrifices, laying down a perfect squeeze bunt in the ninth to give the Indians an insurance run.
Four Cleveland players – Choo, Travis Hafner, Kearns and Peralta — produced multi-hit games, accounting for eight of their team’s 10 hits on the night.
But Talbot was the story, continuing his Cinderella season in his debut year with the Indians.
Cleveland traded for Talbot in the offseason, giving up catcher Kelly Shoppach to Tampa Bay. Needless to say, it’s worked out well for the Indians.
“He was ready to come up to the big leagues and face the next step,” Acta said. “It was the right time and the right place for him to get a chance on the big league level.
“I think he’s been (our) most effective (starting pitcher).”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com.