Indians’ Tomlin, six relievers shut down White Sox
CLEVELAND — For the Cleveland Indians, that’s one season completed, and another one about to begin.
Jay Bruce drove in two runs and Jose Ramirez had two hits, including his major league-leading 56th double, as the Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Sunday at Progressive Field.
Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin (10-9) and six relievers combined on a four-hitter. Tomlin allowed one run on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks in 5 1/3 innings to get the win. Cody Allen pitched the ninth to pick up his 30th save, his third consecutive 30-save season.
Chicago starter Chris Volstad (1-2) pitched six innings, giving up three runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts in taking the loss.
Starting with their American League-record 22-game winning streak that began Aug. 24, the Indians finished the season on a 33-4 run. Their final record of 102-60 is the best in the AL, and the second-most wins in franchise history.
Indians pitchers led the majors with a 3.30 team ERA, the first time Cleveland has led the majors in ERA since 1954. That Indians team went 111-43, the only Cleveland team with more wins than this year’s team.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “This has been a special regular season. Now we’ve got to embrace the next challenge.”
The Indians’ next game will be Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday at Progressive Field against the winner of Tuesday’s AL wild-card game between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees.
“We didn’t get off to the start we wanted to this season, but when you’ve got guys in your clubhouse that good and that unselfish, you know you’ll eventually put it together, and we did,” Tomlin said.
The rebuilding White Sox finish the season in fourth place in the AL Central with a record of 67-95.
“All in all, I think we certainly showed improvement and fight as the year went on,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We did a lot of good things. People should be optimistic about the coming years.”
Although Chicago finished the season 28 games under .500, the White Sox went 20-21 over their last 41 games, including a mark of 15-15 in September/October.
“The fight and the hustle has always been there,” Renteria said. “The execution is getting better. We made some changes to our rotation and bullpen, and I think things are starting to mesh.”
The Indians scored all their runs in the first inning, with an assist from Volstad, who walked the first three batters he faced: Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Ramirez.
Edwin Encarnacion lined out to short, but Bruce lined a single to right field, scoring Lindor and Kipnis. A sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana gave the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Tomlin held Chicago scoreless on one hit through the first four innings, but Rob Brantly, leading off the fifth inning, homered into the right-field seats to cut the Cleveland lead to 3-1.
“Tomlin was crisp and sharp, and he mixed speeds well. He hung one breaking ball to Brantly, but that was it,” Francona said.
“I was pleased with the way I threw. You always want to take a step forward going into the playoffs,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin was removed from the game after 5 1/3 innings, and Francona used the remainder of the contest to get some work for his relievers in preparation for the postseason. Joe Smith, Tyler Olson, Zach McAllister, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Allen shared the last 3 2/3 innings.
“We wanted to get our pen guys in to pitch, but not to pitch too much,” said Francona.
The seven Cleveland pitchers combined to strike out 14. Indians pitchers finished with a major league record 1,614 strikeouts, the fourth consecutive year they have led the American League in strikeouts.
NOTES: Indians manager Terry Francona declined to announce his rotation for the American League Division Series that begins Thursday at Progressive Field. Among other decisions to be made is whether OF Michael Brantley will be on the postseason roster. ... The Indians drew more than two million fans at home this year for the first time since 2008. ... The White Sox hit .281 versus left-handed pitchers this year, the second-best mark in the majors. OF Avisail Garcia led the majors with a .424 average against lefties, and 1B Jose Abreu was eighth at .356. ... Sunday was the final road broadcast for White Sox television announcer Hawk Harrelson. Next year Harrelson will work primarily Sunday home games in his 34th and final season in the broadcast booth.