CLEVELAND -- Spot Chris Sale a two-run lead and the White Sox have to feel good about their chances of winning.
Not on Saturday. Not on this road trip. Not with the way things have gone of late for the White Sox.
Mark Reynolds tied a career-high with five RBIs as he and Nick Swisher both homered off Sale and the Cleveland Indians sent the White Sox to their fifth straight loss with a 9-4 victory in front of 11,422 at Progressive Field.
Reynolds’ grand slam highlighted a six-run fifth inning that knocked Sale out of the game and dropped the White Sox to three games under .500. The eight earned runs allowed by Sale are the most in his career.
“Nothing more to really say than that was just a terrible, terrible day,” Sale said. “Our team needed a better effort and deserved a better effort and I just didn’t give it to them tonight.”
Sale had already surrendered one homer to Swisher and nearly another and trailed 3-2 when Asdrubal Cabrera led off Cleveland’s fifth with a single. Ryan Raburn doubled and Sale hit Swisher with a 0-1 slider to load the bases. The left-hander then caught too much of the plate with a 1-1 slider and Reynolds hammered it 15 rows into the bleachers in left for a 7-2 lead.
“He seemed to be in the middle of the plate a lot,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Not much difference with his changeup and some of the fastballs he's running in there. You get it over the middle of the plate, and they have some guys who can swing the bat. They didn't miss.”
Sale hit Michael Brantley with his next pitch, prompting plate ump Ed Hickox to warn both benches. The White Sox ace recorded one more out but exited after only 4 1/3 innings.
Even after the White Sox spotted him a 2-0 lead in the first Sale couldn’t take advantage. He walked Rayburn and left a 1-1 fastball over the plate and Swisher deposited it in the left field bleachers to tie the game. Swisher also just missed a homer in the third inning and settled for a double and he scored on Reynolds’ RBI single.
“I didn’t really think I had too much of anything today,” Sale said. “I’m not here to make excuses. Just a bad day and didn’t get it done and I’ll work these next four days and do everything I can to change this.”
The White Sox offense could use a similar adjustment.
They jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning when Jeff Keppinger doubled and scored on Reynolds’ error on Alex Rios’ grounder to first. Paul Konerko then singled in Rios, who saw his hitting streak snapped after 16 games even though he the ball hard three times.
From there the White Sox couldn’t string anything together against Indians starter Zack McAllister, who allowed three runs (one earned) and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
McAllister allowed two singles to start the second inning but struck out Tyler Flowers and Alejandro De Aza -- who later homered -- and Keppinger grounded out.
The White Sox finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. They’re 10-for-68 this season (.147).
Ventura said the stretch reminds him of the 2-10 run the White Sox had in late September and he’s hopeful players get it out of their system now.
Rios thinks that can be achieved.
“I believe it’ll take one good game where we get consecutive good at-bats and score a couple of runs,” Rios said. “It’ll get us going. I’m not worried right now. I think it’s still early and we have guys that can do the job.”