EditorsNote: Updated wild-card race in 2nd graf; changed to Wednesday in 3rd graf; other minor fixes throughout
Daniel Palka homered twice, and five pitchers combined on a four-hitter to lift the host Chicago White Sox to an 8-0 victory against the Indians on Thursday night, dealing a serious blow to Cleveland’s American League wild-card hopes.
Cleveland (93-66) lost for the second straight night to fall two games behind Tampa Bay (95-64) in the race for the second AL wild card with three games remaining. The Oakland A’s (96-63) have a one-game lead over Tampa Bay for the top wild card after a 3-1 victory late Thursday night.
The Wednesday loss eliminated the Indians from contention for a fourth successive AL Central title.
If Cleveland misses out on the postseason, its struggles against Chicago figure to loom as one culprit. The White Sox (70-88) won this series 2-1 to finish with an 11-8 edge in the season series.
Chicago seized control of a scoreless game by erupting for a four-run fourth inning. James McCann smacked a three-run home run against Indians rookie right-hander Aaron Civale before Palka made it back-to-back home runs for the White Sox with the first of his two solo shots — his first two homers of the season.
Civale entered Thursday having yielded two home runs in 54 1/3 innings in 2019, but he gave up two on consecutive pitches.
The early edge proved more than enough for the White Sox pitching staff, which thrived even though rookie righty Dylan Cease was scratched from his scheduled start due to a left hamstring strain he sustained during warmups.
Cease was held out as a precaution and will be re-evaluated Friday.
Jose Ruiz scattered three hits over 1 2/3 innings before yielding to a bullpen relay that included Josh Osich (3 1/3 innings), Jimmy Cordero (two), Jace Fry (one) and Hector Santiago (one).
Chicago pitchers struck out nine and didn’t issue a walk. Osich (4-0) was the winner, fanning three.
“They were money,” Palka said of the bullpen. “They were as good as they could have been.”
Jose Abreu had two hits, including a run-scoring triple in the fifth for his AL-leading 123rd RBI. Zack Collins added two hits and two RBIs.
Tim Anderson went 1-for-4 for Chicago. With a .338 average, Anderson maintains a 10-point lead on New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu for the AL batting title.
Civale (3-4) allowed four runs on three hits in 3 1/3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts.
—Field Level Media