CHICAGO — The Cleveland Indians have struggled mightily in the second half. Still, they’re having a big impact on the race in the AL Central.
The Indians drew 12 walks in a 6-4 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night, knocking Chicago out of the AL Central lead for the first time in two months. Cleveland came into U.S. Cellular Field and won two of three.
“It shows a little character,” Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “They still got a lot more to play for than we do. We’re obviously not going to be doing anything after Oct. 3, but the fact that we’re still competing like we are right now shows signs of some character.”
Chicago, which has lost seven of eight, had been in sole possession or tied at the top every day since July 24. But Detroit moved ahead by a game, beating Kansas City 5-4 with a week left in the regular season.
The White Sox have lost 7 of their last 8 and have seven games remaining — four at home against Tampa Bay and three more at Cleveland next week.
“You’re talking about a game lead, two-game, everything is so fragile. You talk about the momentum swings that can happen. This is one of them, the wrong way,” Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said.
“It doesn’t mean in two days it doesn’t swing the other way …It was a tough out there tonight. We didn’t deserve to win that game. This is the big leagues. You got all play nine innings.”
Shin-Soo Choo had a go-ahead RBI grounder in the seventh off Matt Thornton (4-9) and Vinny Rottino hit his first homer for Cleveland in the eighth off Brett Myers.
Lou Marson drew his third walk of the game with one out in the seventh, and after a double by Ezequiel Carrera, Choo hit an RBI grounder to first. The free passes killed the White Sox and helped the Indians, who left 14 on base.
“That’s what made us successful the first half of the season offensively,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “Still, we rank among the top five teams in walks, which is something we really improved this year, and that’s something we can take advantage of and really help us.”