White Sox continue dominance of Tribe
Cabrera's fourth hit carries Chicago in three-run 12th inning
CLEVELAND -- The call from the White Sox bench was for a bunt when Alexei Ramirez stepped to the plate with nobody out and Nick Swisher on first in the 12th inning of Monday's 6-3 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.
Ramirez saw something different in Cleveland's defensive alignment and quickly acted against Ozzie Guillen's instructions.
"In two seconds, he went from being in [Triple-A] Charlotte to being a hero," said a semi-serious Guillen with a laugh. "He made me look smart."
Instead of laying one down and moving the go-ahead run into scoring position, Ramirez pulled the bat and took a full swing on the first offering from reliever Scott Elarton (0-1). Ramirez ripped a single to right, sending pinch-runner DeWayne Wise to third, and igniting a three-run rally.
Orlando Cabrera followed with a run-scoring single, with Carlos Quentin and Brian Anderson adding 12th-inning RBIs before the uprising was put to rest. It was Ramirez's quick thinking, though, which made the difference in the final stages of a fifth straight win for the first-place White Sox (27-22) over the fading Indians (23-28).
"That's a play I practice every day during batting practice," said Ramirez, through translator and bench coach Joey Cora. "I saw everyone moving, and I felt like it was a good time to do it."
"We need a spark in our offense," added Guillen, whose team knocked out a season-high 17 hits Monday. "We need to get this going. I can't wait until we start erupting and killing people on offense, destroying pitchers, like I know we can. We had [Paul] Byrd on the ropes and didn't knock him down."
Boone Logan (2-1) earned the victory due to this extra-inning outburst, but it was closer Bobby Jenks who made history in finishing off the win. The burly right-hander picked up his 13th save of the season, but more importantly, it marked the 100th save of his 3 1/2-year career as the White Sox last line of pitching defense.
Jenks gave up two hits to start the bottom of the 12th, but induced Jhonny Peralta's double-play grounder and struck out Franklin Gutierrez for emphasis. Jenks needed the second-fewest amount of appearances to reach 100, as his 186 games trail only Kazuhiro Sasaki's total of 160. He also became the 10th-youngest pitcher since 1969 to reach 100 saves.
It has been a long but successful road traveled by Jenks from when he was released by the Angels after the 2004 season to his current All-Star status.
|"We need a spark in our offense. We need to get this going. I can't wait until we start erupting and killing people on offense, destroying pitchers, like I know we can. We had [Paul] Byrd on the ropes and didn't knock him down."|
|-- manager Ozzie Guillen|
"Bobby has been amazing since we give him this job," Guillen added. "He matured a lot and he grew up so quick on and off the field. He's one guy we should feel proud about ... what he's done not just on the field, but with his teammates and his life."
Trailing by one run in the seventh, with two outs and nobody on base, Cabrera kept the inning alive with a double to left-center off Byrd. Left-handed reliever Rafael Perez replaced Byrd, facing left-handed-hitting A.J. Pierzynski, who lined a 3-2 pitch into center to score the tying run. The top three hitters in the White Sox order finished with nine hits in 17 at-bats, including three runs scored and three RBIs.
Cabrera led the way with the ninth four-hit game of his career, raising his average to .241.
"Besides offense, I need leadership from him. I need what we see in the past from him," said Guillen. "When you are not hitting, obviously you are not the same person. Hopefully, he's the Cabrera we made the trade for. We all expect that. Just do what he does best. He doesn't have to carry the team.
Jim Thome's 10th home run cut the lead to one in the sixth. Thome's 422-foot blast to left-center marked his fifth home run against his former team this season. Javier Vazquez gave up nine hits over six innings, striking out two and walking two, but it was the bullpen that held strong late in the game.
Matt Thornton fanned Grady Sizemore looking with runners on the corners to end the eighth, although Sizemore had four hits in eight previous at-bats against Thornton. Logan induced Kelly Shoppach's lineout to Jermaine Dye to keep the game going into the 11th, leaving the winning run on third base.
Overall, the bullpen worked six scoreless innings and struck out nine. If Ramirez provided the spark needed for victory, it was the relief crew that provided the steadying force to bring it home.
"There are a lot of reasons we are where we are now, but the bullpen is the biggest one," Guillen said. "All these guys, in general, have done a tremendous job as a group."
"Consistency, that's the main word to use," Jenks said. "It was great the way everyone battled to keep it to a three-run game in 12 innings. And it felt like more. It makes a statement about how we have been doing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.