CLEVELAND — The White Sox didn’t even need their manager or starting pitcher to beat the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle were ejected early by first base umpire Joe West after arguing balk calls, but it didn’t hold the Sox back from handing the Indians another loss.
Jake Westbrook worked a subpar outing, the Indians’ sagging offense continued to struggle and Cleveland’s defense committed a season-high four errors as the home team slumped to a 5-4 defeat.
The Indians staged a rally in the ninth inning, but even that fell short. Cleveland scored three times off closer Bobby Jenks and loaded the bases with one out before losing for the eighth time in 10 games.
“We put up a fight at the end, but we continue to be inconsistent with our situational hitting,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, whose club went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
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Cleveland’s fight followed the confrontation between West, Guillen and Buehrle, which began after West called Chicago’s left-hander for a balk in the second inning.
Just like balls and strikes, players and managers are not permitted to argue balk calls without consequences.
But Guillen said that wasn’t why he left the dugout to confront West.
“I know you’re not allowed to talk about balks,” Guillen said. “I just wanted to ask him why he was embarrassing Buehrle. He gave me one of these (a dismissive hand wave).”
The wave from West, who ripped the Yankees and Red Sox for slow play earlier in the season and who has a reputation for being confrontational, was what infuriated Chicago’s manager.
Guillen made a point of calling West a good umpire, but he also called the veteran of 32 seasons a double expletive.
“When you’re a professional, you have to respect the umpires, but the umpires are supposed to respect back,” Guillen said. “I think I deserve respect, and players deserve respect. When you tell the manager to get the (expletive) off the field, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle it.
“Sometimes he thinks (expletive) people pay to watch him (expletive) umpire.”
West downplayed the incident.
“Ozzie came out because Buehrle was making gestures on the mound that could have gotten him kicked out, so he was protecting Buehrle,” West said. “That’s all he was doing. I don’t have a problem with that.”
After being called for another balk in the third inning and getting ejected for tossing his glove in response, Buehrle definitely had a problem with West.
“(Eleven) years in the big leagues, I’ve used the same move,” Buehrle said. “I still don’t know what he called a balk on. I honestly don’t think I balked either time.
“I was in the wrong for throwing my glove. I didn’t know what I was doing. I shrugged my shoulders and the glove kind of fell off. I wasn’t trying to show him up by throwing the glove.”
Buehrle delivered a zinger – which will likely earn him a fine — on the country-music-singing umpire.
“I think he’s too worried about promoting his CD,” Buehrle said. “And I think he likes seeing his name in the papers a little too much instead of worrying about the rules.”
Acta had little to say about the incident.
“It’s part of the game,” he said. “It’s irrelevant to me. I manage the Cleveland Indians.”
Even with Buehrle gone, the Indians produced little offense until the final inning, scoring once over the first eight innings.
“It was disappointing, because that’s the game plan for every team in every game, getting that starting pitcher out of the game and getting to the bullpen,” Acta said. “He was out of the game early and we couldn’t take advantage of it.”
Westbrook lasted seven innings, but he put the Indians in a 5-1 hole after six.
The right-hander allowed three runs in the fourth, but it was the two-run home run he surrendered to Mark Kotsay in the sixth that stuck with him.
“It was just a bad cutter,” Westbrook said of the first pitch he threw to Kotsay. “It wasn’t even close to being a good pitch. Sometimes you make mistakes and they cost you the ballgame and that’s what happened today.
“I didn’t make any big pitches when I needed to. That kind of put it out of reach. It was frustrating because I felt like I was throwing the ball well. I just threw a couple bad pitches.”
The Indians were plagued by mistakes for much of the day.
Russell Branyan was thrown out trying to advance to third on a one-out groundball from Matt LaPorta that took the Indians out of a potential big inning.
And fielding miscues were at a maximum as left fielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Jason Donald, third baseman Jhonny Peralta and first baseman Branyan all committed errors.
“It was probably our worst defensive game of the year,” Acta said.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com.