At this point in the season, the Indians deserve a lot of credit. Despite enduring one of the most epic collapses in Indians history, they have continued to play hard in September. At times, in August, they looked like they had folded the tent and checked out for the year. Yet, in September, the Indians are 10-14, with eight of the ten wins coming in one-run games. With their 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox, the Indians really impacted the A.L. Central race, helping the Tigers into a one-game lead in the division with seven games to go.
The Indians didn't waste a first inning opportunitiy, but they could have done more. That was the story of the night, even though they scored six runs. In the first, Jason Kipnis walked with one out and Carlos Santana kept the inning alive for Russ Canzler's two-out RBI single to open the scoring. Travis Hafner, who left seven men on base on an 0-for-5 night, flew out with two on to end the inning.
Justin Masterson has taken some big steps back this season. He has been anything but reliable for the Indians and that trend continued on Wednesday night. After being given a 1-0 lead, Masterson gave up three runs in the first. The first four White Sox reached on a two walks and two singles. The second walk, issued to Paul Konerko, drove in a run with the bases loaded. Alex Rios lofted a sacrifice fly to center to put the White Sox ahead. A.J. Pierzynski doubled to push the lead to 3-1. Masterson worked out of it without further trouble.
The game stayed 3-1 until the fourth when the Indians tied things up. Lonnie Chisenhall singled and Lou Marson walked to start the inning. Following an Ezequiel Carrera fielder's choice, Carrera stole second, Choo walked, and Kipnis singled home Chisenhall and Carrera to tie the game at 3-3.
Chicago retook the lead against Masterson on Alexei Ramirez's RBI double in the fifth. Masterson exited the ballgame, allowing four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work. The Indians got Masterson off the hook in the sixth. Choo doubled and three straight walks eventually allowed Choo to score. Carlos Santana was the recipient of the game-tying walk. With the bases still loaded, Canzler struck out and Hafner hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
In the seventh, the Indians squeaked out a run on fielder's choice. Marson walked, Carrera doubled, and Choo's ground out scored Marson to put the Indians ahead 5-4. Vinny Rottino's eighth inning home run, the first of his career, gave the Indians a little insurance. The Indians bullpen was brilliant on the night, pitching 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two baserunners. The Indians left 14 runners on base in the game, but Chris Perez shut the door for his 38th save of the season.
With the win, the Indians won just their third series of the second half and first against a team other than the Detroit Tigers. Their record is now 65-91. The White Sox fell to 82-73. Frank Herrmann picked up the victory, his first of the season and first since August 31, 2011. Matt Thornton was saddled with the loss, dropping to 4-9.
Stat of the Night: Jason Kipnis registered his 30th steal, Shin-Soo Choo registered his 40th double, and Vinny Rottino hit his first Major League home run.
Player of the Game: Jason Kipnis had a hit, walked three times, stole two bases, drove in two runs, and scored a run.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians are off as they return home to take on the Kansas City Royals.