Zach Plesac, who is fifth in Cleveland’s pitching rotation, made his season debut Wednesday and turned his first dance into one of his best starts in his young career.
However, Plesac’s start was ruined as the White Sox scored four runs in the ninth inning earned a 4-0 win over the Indians to avoid the series sweep.
The 25-year-old right-hander out of Ball State University went eight scoreless innings for Cleveland with a career-high 11 strikeouts.
“I felt like I just had a good game plan and what I was trying to do with each pitch,” Plesac said. “Where I wanted to miss. Where I was trying to execute, where the out (pitch) was, I think me and Beau (Taylor) were on the same page; I only shook him a few times. ... It was a lot of fun to pitch.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was pleased with the outing from his young pitcher.
“I thought he was tremendous,” Francona said. “Plesac pounded the strike zone, he changed speed, he was efficient, he was tremendous.”
Closer Brad Hand (0-1) took the mound in the ninth for the Indians. Hand gave up a lead-off double to Tim Anderson to start Chicago’s rally, walked Yoan Moncada, and hit Jose Abreu with a pitch. The White Sox scored the first run of the game from a Yasmani Grandal’s sacrifice fly to left field – making it 1-0.
The White Sox (2-4) added to their lead with an Eloy Jimenez sacrifice fly to center, and Luis Roberts drove in a two-run single for a 4-0 lead.
“I got myself into some trouble with the walk and hit by a pitch with nobody out,” Hand said. “Tried getting a strikeout with a sac fly, and then I fell apart right there.
Cleveland’s (4-2) first chances to get on the scoreboard came in the bottom of the fourth. Cesar Hernandez started the inning with a walk and Jose Ramirez singles to allow Hernandez to go to third. Francisco Lindor struck out swinging to make the first out of the inning. Then Carlos Santana hit into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The White Sox made a scoring threat in the sixth when Adam Engel doubled to start the inning. However, Chicago left Engel on second as the top of the order for the White Sox – Anderson, Moncada, and Abreu – went to end the inning.
“I was really trying to attack ... I didn’t want to nip-pick too much with pitches,” Plesac said. “With the top of the lineup coming up, I know I had to lock back in and face their harder lineup.”
Chicago’s Lucas Giolito had a mirror performance like Plesac. Giolito went six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and four hits.
The Indians loaded the bases with two outs in their half of the sixth to break the scoreless game. Hernandez and Ramirez each hit back-to-back singles, and Lindor reached base with a walk. Santana ended Cleveland’s scoring chance with a fly out to centerfield.