Cleveland Guardians second baseman Gabriel Arias reached on a fielding error by shortstop Tim Anderson leading off the bottom of the second Wednesday at Progressive Field.
It was the start of a long — and disastrous — inning for the Chicago White Sox.
The next eight Guardians had hits, including All-Star third baseman José Ramírez’s grand slam. The Sox also committed a second error in the inning, their fourth of the game.
It wasn’t exactly the way a team wanted to start the first game of a doubleheader — or any game, for that matter. The Guardians scored nine runs in the inning and crushed the Sox 11-1.
The Sox played better in the second game but couldn’t avoid a sweep, falling 2-1.
Ramírez had an RBI double in the first and Oscar Mercado had an RBI double in the fourth for the Guardians. Danny Mendick had an RBI double in the fifth for the Sox, one of the team’s three hits.
Manager Tony La Russa took the blame for the Game 1 loss.
“I describe the beginning of the game where the manager didn’t get them ready to play,” he said. “I take the heat for that. And (then) we got better.”
Dallas Keuchel allowed 10 runs, eight earned, on 10 hits with one walk in one-plus innings. He exited after facing 11 batters in the second.
“There’s really nothing to say, to be honest with you,” Keuchel said. “Watched it back on film, wasn’t any better. So, move on.”
The defense had its roughest day of the young season. The four errors — three by Anderson — were a season high, eclipsing the three committed in Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“It’s a common problem — you have an off day and you have to push, and I didn’t push the club like I should have,” La Russa said. “I take the heat. We weren’t ready to play early, and it’s my job to get that done.
“The ironic thing was after the early sluggish play, there were about four or five really outstanding defensive plays on our side. That’s why I say look to me to get them ready to play and I didn’t do it.”
Poor weather led to postponements on Monday and Tuesday in what should have been the first two games of the series. The Sox were sluggish out of the gate Wednesday as the first two Guardians reached on throwing errors by Anderson and third baseman Jake Burger.
Keuchel limited the Guardians to one run in the first. But they strung together four straight singles after Arias reached on Anderson’s error in the second.
Ramírez’s slam, his fourth homer and second slam of the season, made it 7-0. Each batter in the Guardians’ starting lineup scored in the inning.
“Just when you’ve seen it all, you really haven’t,” Keuchel said. “It’s one of those things going in we were facing (Shane) Bieber and I knew it was going to be a pretty good fight, but I did some stuff that I wanted to do. But at the end of the day I can’t really think about it too much because it wasn’t like I was walking the world or inconsistent or anything like that.
“Lot of bloops, lot of ground-ball singles. I think I made two mistake pitches, one the cutter back to Ramirez.”
La Russa said Keuchel “deserved better.”
“The one thing he did outstanding, that first inning, that thing could have blown up, and he ended up just missing a double play for the run,” La Russa said. “I look forward to the next time he gets out there. He came out there with good stuff.”
Bieber allowed one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings for the win.
Tanner Banks provided a highlight for the Sox, striking out two in four perfect innings in relief of Keuchel.
“Outstanding,” La Russa said of Banks.
La Russa also used “outstanding” to describe starter Jimmy Lambert in Game 2. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks in 3⅔ innings.
“It was a shame (for him) to be the losing pitcher,” La Russa said.
Lambert, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after the game, felt he made progress from his first start of the season to the second.
“I was happy with my pitches for the most part,” Lambert said. “Just a couple of 0-2 mistakes (to Ramírez and Mercado).”
Mendick’s fifth-inning double was the team’s first hit of the game against Guardians starter Triston McKenzie. Reese McGuire scored, but Adam Engel was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first.
“That was a big time throw (by left fielder Steven Kwan), when Engel is storming around third and the catcher (Bryan Lavastida) made a backhand, in-between-hop play on it,” La Russa said. “That’s the highest big-league play there.”
Sox third baseman Josh Harrison made a remarkable catch in the bottom of the fifth, sprinting to left field for an over-the-shoulder grab. He avoided left fielder Andrew Vaughn with a flip and exited an inning later with right shoulder soreness.
“At the time I could feel it a little, but our adrenaline is always going and as things die down we start to feel things and I could feel where it was like, ‘All right, let me go get this checked out just to be on the safe side,’ ” Harrison said. “Better safe than sorry.”
The Sox hadn’t lost consecutive games entering Wednesday. Now, they’ll head into Thursday looking to shake off a three-game losing streak.
“Got to be able to flush days like today,” Harrison said. “Didn’t turn out how we wanted. Wasn’t pretty. But today has no effect on tomorrow, so we’ve got to show up tomorrow. Wipe these off, shower it off and come back ready to go.”