Covering the Bases: Games 27-28

Doubleheader:

Indians 8, White Sox 6 (Game 1)
Indians 3, White Sox 2 (Game 2)

FIRST: As if dealing with a doubleheader isn’t challenge enough, the Indians were up against it heading into Monday. Manager Manny Acta wanted to do everything in his power to provide a day off for closer Chris Perez, as well as setup men Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith.

That meant the only available arms were Jairo Asencio, Nick Hagadone, Dan Wheeler and Tony Sipp. Not for one game. For two games. So, naturally, Cleveland would run into a save situation in both contests against Chicago.

In Game 1, Hagadone answered the bell, escaping a two-on, none-out jam in the ninth to collect his first career save after Asencio logged two-plus frames. In Game 2, Sipp was asked to save a 3-2 ballgame while facing a line of right-handed hitters. He issued a walk (and gave up a mammoth foul ball that was a few feet from being a game-changing homer), but escaped any harm to seal the win.

The best part for the Tribe — beyond picking up two wins — was Acta got his wish. Perez and Pestano, who had each worked in four of the past five days, got a day off. Smith did log two-thirds of an inning in Game 2 after offering his services. He pitched after Dan Wheeler was deemed unavailable after a one-hour, 25-minute rain delay.

SECOND: The bullpen got its break largely due to the combined effort of starters Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin. McAllister (promoted from AAA Columbus for the Game 1 start) gave the Indians six solid innings. In Game 2, Tomlin provided 7 1/3 strong frames. Both pitchers gave the club precisely what it needed to mount an offensive rally and to give the ‘pen its much-needed break.

THIRD: Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had himself a day, going 4-for-6 between the pair of games for the Indians. Moving Cabrera into the three hole helped the offense last year and it’s been working again this season. Over his past seven games, Cabrera has hit .565 (13-for-23). Over his last 18 games? Try .408 (29-for-71). With Johnny Damon leading off, Jason Kipnis in the No. 2 spot, Shin-Soo Choo sixth, Michael Brantley seventh and Jack Hannahan ninth, the Tribe offense has been performing better of late.

HOME: There are any number of players I could feature in the final section of tonight’s CTB, but how about a tip o’ the cap to Pronk. Travis Hafner had a memorable trip to the ol’ ballyard today. In Game 1, he tripled for the first time since May 2007 (ending a triple-less drought of 1,711 at-bats) and he homered to tie Al Rosen (192) for eighth on the club’s all-time home run chart. In Game 2, Hafner was hit by a pitch, marking his 79th career HBP. That moved Pronk into a tie with Nap Lajoie for the most career HBP’s in Cleveland’s franchise history.

On deck:

White Sox (13-17) at Indians (17-11)
at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Progressive Field

–JB

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