CLEVELAND (AP) — José Ramírez delivered a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning and the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Thursday night for a four-game sweep in a matchup of playoff-bound teams.
The victory pulled the Indians within one game of Chicago for the fourth seed and home-field advantage in the first round of the postseason. Idle Minnesota leads the White Sox by one game in the AL Central with three to play.
The Indians have won five straight and the White Sox have lost a season-high five in a row.
“If there is anyone you’d want at the plate right now, it has to be José,” Cleveland pitcher Zach Plesac said. “He’s at next level. Next level. It’s so cool watching him hit.”
Chicago scored three times in the top of the seventh to take a 4-1 lead, but the Indians answered with four in the bottom half. Ramírez’s two-out double to center off Carlos Rodón (0-2) drove in César Hernández and Delino DeShields.
“My expectation did not come to fruition with what I thought we were going to see,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “If everybody wants to put it on me, put it on me.”
Rodón disagreed, saying, “I’m the one who gave up the hits. Ricky had nothing to do with throwing any of the pitches, so it’s not on him.”
On Tuesday night, Ramírez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning to give Cleveland a 5-3 win over White Sox that clinched a playoff spot.
The AL MVP candidate went 2 for 3 in the series finale and is hitting .485 with eight homers and 20 RBIs over his last 13 games.
“José is a lot of fun to watch and he’s doing everything right now,” Indians acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “All the guys just kept fighting. This team never stops battling.”
Cam Hill (2-0) worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win and Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his AL-high 15th save in 15 chances.
White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel allowed one run in six innings in his second start since a stint on the injured list with back spasms. The left-hander went 1-0 with a 0.45 ERA in four September outings, lowering his season mark to 1.99, second-best in the AL.
“It’s a little somber,” Keuchel said. “I think we take all losses hard, which makes it tough. We’ve been playing some really good baseball, but we’ve just been out-executed.”
Plesac went 6 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs and striking out seven. He was chased in the seventh after Nomar Mazara singled home two runs, which was preceded by an RBI groundout by Yasmani Grandal.
“There is a special feeling in this clubhouse, like we know we’re going to win ballgames every day,” Plesac said. “It all feels like a dream. We’re just going to enjoy these moments together because you never know when it’s going to end.”
Yolmer Sánchez hit his first homer since July 19, 2019, to put the White Sox up 1-0 in the third. It was the first run scored by Chicago against Plesac in 16 1/3 innings this season.
White Sox OF Luis Robert, who is mired in a 0-for-28 slump and doesn’t have a hit since Sept. 15, was not in the lineup. The 23-year-old Cuban leads all rookies with 30 RBIs and is tied for first with 11 homers, but has just six hits in his last 70 at-bats (.086).
“The reality is you have a young man coming into the big leagues, and no matter how talented you are, you hit a wall,” Renteria said. “Nobody wants to see the wall be hit, but you hit a wall.”
The White Sox fell out of the division lead for the first time since Sept. 4 when they lost Wednesday. Renteria admitted their struggles are taking a toll. “There is this belief that players don’t lose their confidence or their trust, but that’s not true,” he said before the game. “Every single one of us loses confidence and trust in ourselves at times.”
IN A PINCH
Indians pinch-hitters Josh Naylor, Tyler Naquin and Mike Freeman had consecutive singles off Jimmy Cordero to start the seventh.
It marked Cleveland’s first back-to-back-to-back pinch-hits since June 4, 1974, against Texas — the infamous 10-Cent Beer Night — at Municipal Stadium. Ed Crosby, Rusty Torres and Alan Ashby pulled off the feat before umpires called the game in the ninth inning when fans stormed onto the field.
White Sox: OF Eloy Jiménez (right foot soreness) left the game in the seventh inning after sliding into home plate somewhat awkwardly. His status will be updated Friday.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Cease (5-3, 3.52 ERA) opens a three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field against Cubs RHP Yu Darvish. The White Sox took two of three from their Windy City rivals at Wrigley Field from Aug. 21-23.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.90 ERA) takes the hill against Pirates RHP Mitch Keller as Cleveland wraps up the regular season with three home games. Carrasco struck out a season-high 11 at Detroit on Sept. 20.
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