CLEVELAND, Ohio – Zach Plesac at the start of the season had no choice but to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors. Exactly what he did Wednesday night in the Progressive Field.
Plesac became the sixth Indian starter straight from the opening of the day to pitch at least six innings while allowing two runs or less. In doing so he not only compared what Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale and Adam Plutko did before they did a little more.
The only thing missing in the game was offense. He didn’t make it to the ninth inning, which is a testament to how well Lucas Giolito of Plesac and Chicago and his bullpen held up. In doing so, the White Sox piled on Brad Hand for a 4-0 victory.
Hand (0-1) started the ninth and allowed four runs on one hit in 1/3 of an inning. He allowed a double lead to Tim Anderson, left Yoan Moncada and hit Jose Abreu to start the inning. Yasmani Grandal made it 1-0 with a sacrifice shot. Adam Cimber freed and allowed a sacrifice fly to Eloy Jimenez and a two-run single-run for Luis Robert.
The last time the Indians had six starters to open the season with six innings or more and two or fewer races allowed was in 1905. That was 115 years ago and the pitchers were named Otto Hess (twice), Addie Joss, Earl Moore and Bob Rhoads. This was not done in the big leagues by the Atlanta Braves in 1993.
Plesac threw eight innings without a score, with a career-high 11. He allowed three hits and walked no batter in 98 pitches.
The Indians ’rotation is 4-0 with a 1.RA of 1.85 in six games. The starters hit 53 batters and three-pointers in 39 innings.
“Exactly what we’re doing – feeding each other,” Plesac said. “I think we have a strong competitive rotation. This group of boys, with the work they’ve done, are really smart about what they want to do when it’s their turn to take the mound.
“Every time I see one of my boys throw in the day before, he picks me up and ready to be ready.”
Plesac and Lucas Giolito were the focal point of the game until nine.
Giolito, robbed by the Twins at the start of his first season, threw six innings without a score. He shot six and took off two to lower his ERA from 17.18 to 6.52.
“I thought Zach was tremendous,” Indian manager Terry Francona said. “It was really hard to see the first five or six innings, but the two pitchers matched each other. Plesac stepped into the strike zone. He changed speed. He was efficient. He was tremendous and the same was their type. “
Like any good starter they were at their best when they meant the most.
The White Sox put runners on first and third with two outs in the third thanks to singles by Leury Garcia and Anderson. Garcia should have been out as he tried to go straight to third on Anderson’s soft single to the left, but Bradley Zimmer made a change to third and Jose Ramirez couldn’t handle it. Zimmer was charged with his second mistake in two days.
Plesac finished the inning by summoning Moncada to pop up to Ramirez.
He retired the next seven batters before creating No. 9 Adam Engel started the sixth double. Plesac, who stirred the speeds well, hit Anderson, withdrew Moncada on a liner for a second and retired Abreu on a grounder for a short. Anderson was so upset that he hit a pitch outside the field of speed that stopped his bats on the ground and shattered from the handle to the barrel.
“I was really trying to attack,” Plesac said. “I didn’t want to nitpick too much with the top of the lineup coming back. I knew I had to lock back and face the core of their lineup.”
Giolito was just as good.
Cesar Hernandez left and Ramirez brought the third to start the fourth. Giolito hit Francisco Lindor and forced Carlos Santana to hit for a 3-6-3 double.
The Indians loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. Hernandez alone, Ramirez doubled it for third and Lindor left. Carlos Santana centers.
In the White Sox doubleheader sweep, the Indians were out-hit, 19-15, but won with great pitching. Great pitching resumed Wednesday, but it’s hard to win if you don’t get a score.
The Indians finished with six hits, three from Ramirez. Aaron Bummer (1-0) was the winner with eight without a score.
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