Ramirez, Bauer help surging Indians rout White Sox
CLEVELAND — With two games left in the regular season, the Cleveland Indians still have some unfinished business: trying to secure the No. 1 seed in the American League. On Friday night, they moved another step closer.
Jose Ramirez had three hits, including his 54th and 55th doubles of the season, and Trevor Bauer pitched six strong innings as the Indians routed the Chicago White Sox 10-1 at Progressive Field.
The Indians have the best record in the league at 101-59. But the Houston Astros, who beat Boston on Friday, are right behind them at 100-60. The Indians need one more win, or one Houston loss, in the last two days of the regular season in order to clinch the No.1 seed and the home-field advantage through the American League Championship Series.
“The way Houston is playing, we have to keep winning,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “But this is good for us. In this game you can’t just turn the button on and off, so the best thing to do is play the best you can right to the end, and our guys are doing a good job of that.”
The Indians are 32-3 since Aug. 24 and have impressed White Sox manager Rick Renteria.
“Those guys are a fine-tuned team, very gifted, and ready for a postseason run,” Renteria said.
Bauer (17-9) gave up one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.
“Our motivation is to win the World Series,” Bauer said. “The results are what they are because of that motivation. Everyone is just playing the game at a high level.”
Chicago starter Mike Pelfrey (3-12) gave up all 10 of Cleveland’s runs in 2 2/3 innings, although three of the runs were unearned. Pelfrey allowed six hits and walked six.
“It was a little rough for him,” Renteria said. “We wanted him to give us as many innings as he could, but we had to go get him.”
Jay Bruce homered and Edwin Encarnacion had three RBIs for the Indians, whose 101 wins are the second most in franchise history.
The only Indians team with more wins was the 1954 American League champion. That team won a then-American League record 111 games, only to get swept in four games by the New York Giants in the World Series.
The Indians blew it open with a six-run second inning and four-run third.
In the second, Pelfrey walked Jason Kipnis to start the inning. Pelfrey struck out the next batter, but walked Roberto Perez. Francisco Lindor flied out for the second out. But Austin Jackson singled home Kipnis, and Ramirez’s second double in two innings drove in Perez and Jackson to make it 3-0.
Encarnacion hit a grounder to shortstop Tim Anderson and the ball rolled under his glove for an error, allowing Ramirez to score. Bruce then hit a towering fly ball over the wall in center field for his 36th home run, a two-run blast that stretched the lead to 6-0.
The third inning began with back-to-back doubles by Kipnis and Yandy Diaz to make it 7-0. Pelfrey retired the next two batters, but walked the two after that and then walked off the field as he was replaced by reliever David Holmberg.
“We didn’t help him,” said Renteria of Pelfrey. “There were a couple of plays we could have made, but didn’t. We’ve been playing pretty clean baseball, but this was not one of our better days.”
Encarnacion greeted Holmberg with a line-drive triple into the right-center field gap, and it was a 10-0 Cleveland lead.
Chicago’s only run came on a solo home run by Yolmer Sanchez leading off the fourth inning. Bauer was removed after six innings.
“He threw the ball really well, and could have pitched a couple more innings, but we needed to get some (relievers) in,” Francona said.
NOTES: RHP Corey Kluber, who will be the Indians’ starter in Game 1 of the AL Division Series Thursday, will make his last regular-season start Saturday. Manager Terry Francona said he and Kluber will discuss beforehand how much the Indians’ ace will pitch in the game. ... Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco and LHP Ryan Merritt will each pitch a three-inning simulated game on Tuesday. Carrasco is expected to pitch Game 2 of the Division Series. ... OF Avisail Garcia has a chance to record the highest batting average by a White Sox player since Frank Thomas won the AL batting title with a .347 average in 1997. Garcia, who went 1-for-4 in the game, is hitting .330, second in the AL behind Houston 2B Jose Altuve’s .348. ... White Sox relievers have a combined 502 strikeouts, the most by a bullpen in franchise history. The previous record was 479, set in 2011.