CLEVELAND — Indians first baseman Mark Reynolds’ defense remains suspect, but his bat is downright lethal.
Reynolds belted a grand slam and knocked in a career-high-tying five runs Saturday, powering Cleveland to a 9-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The Tribe also got home runs from Nick Swisher and Yan Gomes in earning its second straight win.
“Mark is so strong, and when he’s swinging the bat like that, it’s so pretty to watch,” manager Terry Francona said. “It was a tough, cold day out there for everybody, but it doesn’t feel so bad when you win.”
Reynolds said he was looking for redemption when he stepped to the plate in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and one out. Cleveland held a 3-2 lead at the time, but both White Sox runs were unearned and the result of his throwing error in the first.
When Chicago left-hander Chris Sale left a hanging slider over the plate, Reynolds hammered it 393 feet onto the home run porch in left field. It was the slugger’s 186th career homer, but only his second grand slam in 862 games.
“I was just looking to put the ball in the air,” said Reynolds, who leads the Tribe with five home runs and 13 RBIs. “It wasn’t an easy day to get it out of the park, but it’s never an easy day here, so far, with the weather.”
While White Sox ace Sale (1-1, 5.21 ERA) wilted in the 44-degree, windy, wet conditions, Indians starter Zach McAllister (1-1, 2.19 ERA) had little problem overcoming the elements. The right-hander allowed one earned run in 6⅓ innings, striking out six without issuing a walk.
All three of Chicago’s runs off McAllister could be excused. Two scored after Reynolds threw a routine grounder wide to first, and the other came home when reliever Bryan Shaw gave up a two-run homer upon entering.
“Zach was very good and his command of his fastball was tremendous,” Francona said. “It wasn’t just the strikes he was throwing, the quality of his strikes were impressive. This is a pretty tough kid who handles himself pretty well out there.”
Designated hitter Swisher ripped his first homer as a member of the Indians in the bottom of the first, tying the game at 2 with a two-out rocket into the left-field bleachers. Two innings later, the Ohio State product doubled and scored the go-ahead run on Reynolds’ sharp single.
“Swish’s response after (Reynolds’) error, that was huge,” Francona said. “He crushed that first one and he crushed the second one, too.”
Swisher scored three runs, reached base in all four of his plate appearances and tied the longest hitting streak in Progressive Field history at 20 games (equaling Texas’ Michael Young from 2004-08). The outburst came less than 24 hours after his ninth-inning, walk-off single gave Cleveland a 1-0 win over Chicago.
Gomes accounted for the Indians’ other two RBIs with a two-run blast to center in the fifth off reliever Deunte Heath. Gomes was filling in for catcher Carlos Santana, who has been sidelined since bruising his left thumb Monday.
“This was a terrible, terrible day,” said Sale, who allowed a career-high eight runs on eight hits in 4⅓ innings. “My team needed a better effort and deserved a better effort. I didn’t give it to them.”
The 6-foot-6 lefty also hit two batters, striking Swisher and left fielder Michael Brantley immediately before and after Reynolds’ slam.
Unlike Tribe pitcher Carlos Carrasco earlier in the week against the Yankees, Sale held himself fully accountable. Sale was issued a warning by the umpire, while Carrasco was ejected and later suspended eight games.
“That was me being an idiot, honestly, by going out there and trying to overthrow and blow it by (Brantley),” Sale said. “I had no intention of (hitting him), but I knew when I let it go, it wasn’t going to be good.
“Not only does that look bad on my part, it looks bad on my team. That’s not what we’re about and that’s not what I’m about.”
The Indians evened their record at 5-5, while the White Sox dropped their fifth straight to fall to 4-7. Chicago is the only MLB team without a road win at 0-5.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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