CLEVELAND (AP) — Andrew Vaughn’s grounder slipped between third baseman José Ramírez and shortstop Amed Rosario for a two-out single in the first inning.
The Chicago White Sox didn’t get another hit off Cleveland Guardians starter Shane Bieber until Jose Abreu’s one-out infield single in the seventh.
Bieber has often given the Sox fits, and Tuesday was no different. The Sox were limited to three hits in a 4-1 loss in the first game of a split doubleheader at Progressive Field.
Dylan Cease gave what manager Tony La Russa called an “All-Star-worthy” performance in Game 2, helping the Sox win a division with a 7-0 win.
Cease, who was not included on the All-Star list when pitchers and reserves were announced Sunday, he allowed five hits and struck out nine while walking three in 5⅔ innings.
“The most important thing is to beat a central opponent (from the American League),” Cease said. “I definitely want to keep adding to what I’ve been doing.”
He got early support when Abreu hit a two-run homer in the first off Konnor Pilkington, whom he the Red Sox traded Cleveland last year for second baseman Cesar Hernandez.
Josh Harrison hit a solo homer in the second and Luis Robert hit a three-run homer in the ninth.
“We always go out with the mentality of winning,” Robert said through an interpreter. “It could be that we lose one game or two games in a row, three games in a row. But our mentality is always to go out there and try to win. That’s what we did (Tuesday).
“Things didn’t go our way in the first game, but in the second game we were able to come out victorious.”
It was a day full of impressive pitches, with Bieber outscoring the Sox in Game 1.
“He threw the ball well,” Harrison said. “That’s baseball. Sometimes you’re going to have guys that have outlets like that. He hit the zone. That’s pretty much what a lot of starting pitchers want to do. He lived in the area, he had his outs.
“He got a couple of double plays, grounded out when he needed them. Sometimes you’re going to run into guys who have a day like that.”
Bieber went the distance, striking out seven with no walks.
“Our plan was to try and hit more balls in the middle,” La Russa said. “We rolled a few, but when that ball spins toward you or spins away, it’s tough. The pitcher deserves the credit.”
Bieber entered Tuesday with a record of 6-2 in 13 career starts against the Red Sox. His 2.48 ERA against them was the second-lowest against any American League opponent, behind only the Baltimore Orioles (0.75).
Davis Martin kept the Sox in the game, allowing four runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
Martin took a line drive near his right shoulder in the second, but recovered and converted a double play and stayed in the game.
The Guardians scored three runs in the third, all with two outs. Ramírez hit a two-run single to make it 3-0.
“I liked how I attacked the zone,” Martin said of his overall performance. “This team is a good hitting team. They are a contact team. They are going to get their singles. I’d probably say three things: Walking (Myles) Straw (with one out in the fifth), the fastball that leaked to Rosario for the double (in the fifth) and just when we faced Jose Ramirez. He is an All-Star for a reason.
“I can’t let him beat you and I shot too much in the zone against him. It should have been a little more, hey him, let’s try to get him off the plate or let’s try to get him to chase him. There are guys on the base. He wants the RBI from him. Let’s see if we can get her to chase him. If he doesn’t? He fine. Let’s go to the next guy.”
The third inning featured a less than stellar defense from the Sox. Austin Hedges reached on a groundout that third baseman Yoán Moncada couldn’t cleanly field for an infield hit. Hedges scored with two outs when Rosario’s line between left-center field dropped for a double. Left fielder Eloy Jimenez did not take a direct path to the ball.
With runners on second and third and two out, the Sox chose to throw to Ramirez, who drove in two with a single to right field.
“We were going to throw Ramirez hard, and probably the mistake he made there, he puts the ball over the plate (and) it’s a single,” La Russa said. “It was still a groundout, I found a hole.”
Rosario pushed Paja with the double in the fifth. Ramirez walked up and was intentionally walked after fouling a pitch.
“The second time we were also throwing (Ramirez),” La Russa said. “Even then, get tough. Because sometimes you catch the guy, they get out on their own. And if you have good patience, it’s like an intentional unintentional walk.
“So that’s what (pitching coach) Ethan (Katz) came out to say, and the first pitch was at the plate. He fouled, so I said, well, put him up (with the intentional walk). I just think it’s Davis’ lack of experience and understanding more about that situation. Because he’s smart enough to know how to throw off the plate and he did, he cost him two runs (in the third). He was supposed to do it again (in the fifth) and after one strike, he said no.”
The Sox showed some signs of coming together offensively in the seventh. Jiménez followed up Abreu’s single with one of his own, bringing home Vaughn for the team’s only run. Gavin Sheets pitched in the tying run, but grounded into a double play late in the inning.
Bieber retired the team in order in the eighth and ninth as the Red Sox fell to 1-6 this season against the Guardians. They got victory number 2, and more importantly, they were not far behind in the standings, with the victory in the last cup.
Cese has allowed one or fewer earned runs in each of his last nine starts. He improved to 8-4 while lowering his ERA to 2.30.
“He just races,” La Russa said. “He’s got a lot to compete with and he’s getting smarter and more knowledgeable about his delivery and how he makes adjustments.”
Cese came out with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth. Reynaldo López struck out Luke Maile to escape the jam.
The Guardians loaded the bases with two outs again in the eighth, but Kendall Graveman had Ernie Clement line up to left. AJ Pollock made a nice sliding catch.
Robert opened the game with a three-run home run off the right field foul pole.
“I knew I made good contact, but I wasn’t sure the ball would come out,” he said. “At first I thought it would be gross. My home runs to the opposite field are usually to the gap. This was on the line. But he knew that he hit her well.”
After a rough afternoon, the Sox bounced back.
“Incredibly important,” Cease said. “Obviously we are fighting to get the ranking back at Central and every game is super important, so it was good to split up and not lose both of them.”