CLEVELAND — For the third time in five days on Wednesday night the White Sox rewrote team history.
Just like the previous two entries, and several others established in a dismal 2013 campaign, the White Sox won’t spend the offseason bragging about their latest accomplishment.
Courtesy of a 7-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, the White Sox established a single-season record with their 55th road loss. The team finished with a 26-55 mark away from U.S. Cellular Field, one game worse than the 1969 White Sox, who finished 27-54.
Nick Swisher homered off Dylan Axelrod to send the White Sox to their 14th straight loss against the Indians, also a franchise record for consecutive losses against any team. Losers in 20 of their last 26, the White Sox have to win one of their last four games against the Kansas City Royals to avoid a 100-loss season. They also finished the season with a 2-17 record against Cleveland.
“They just outplayed us,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Any time even when we had leads late, they just seemed to fight and kind of have the ability this year to come back late. A few walk-offs and things like that. They are kind of hitting their stride here really when you need a push to be able to go win games late. Then they add this (Danny) Salazar kid that threw today.”
Ahead by a run, with Salazar pitching a gem, Cleveland pulled away for good in the fifth inning against Axelrod.
Michael Brantley, who singled in a run in the second inning, doubled to deep right-center field with one out. Swisher then continued his assault on White Sox pitchers when he belted a 2-1 slider into the Indians’ bullpen for a three-run lead. A member of the 2008 AL Central champs, Swisher finished with six homers and 14 RBIs against his old club this season.
Cleveland tacked on another run against Axelrod in the sixth on a Drew Stubbs sacrifice fly.
Axelrod gave up five runs (three earned) and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.
“They’re a really quality team,” Axelrod said. “They do all the little things right. They take extra bases, read balls in the dirt, play good defense and have timely hitting. They’re hot right now, and they’ve had our number it seems like all year. Really good team. They might surprise some people if they get into the playoffs.”
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The White Sox grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Avisail Garcia hit a solo homer, a towering 419-foot shot to left-center in the second inning.
But Salazar and five relievers kept the White Sox in check the rest of the way. Salazar struck out eight and limited the White Sox to two earned runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings.
“He throws hard, and you’ve got to be focused with him because he never gives up,” Garcia said of Salazar. “He wants to throw hard and make good pitches. Just try to focus and don’t try to swing hard because when a pitcher throws hard like that you don’t want to swing hard because you’re gonna miss it. Don’t try to do too much and make good contact. He’s got really good movement and he’s got a slider/split. He's got a fastball at 99-100, so you’ve got to be ready for him.”
The White Sox scored a run in the sixth on Dayan Viciedo’s RBI single, but Bryan Shaw stranded the tying runners with strikeouts of Jordan Danks and Marcus Semien. White Sox hitters struck out 16 times.