CLEVELAND — Perhaps the White Sox hitters should heed Hawk Harrelson’s advice and not stop with the whole scoring of runs.
For a third straight day, a largely comatose White offense looked like a juggernaut as the club scored five first-inning runs and trounced the Cleveland Indians, 10-3, on Saturday night in front of 24,763 at Progressive Field. Jose Abreu drove in three runs, Melky Cabrera and Tyler Flowers each had two RBIs and Carlos Sanchez hit the first home run of his career.
Chris Sale cruised to his ninth win in 14 decisions and Adam LaRoche also had his first RBI in 47 plate appearances for the White Sox, who have outscored Cleveland 24-4 in the series and seek a four-game sweep on Sunday. The White Sox — who had a hit from every starter on Saturday — have three straight wins by at least six runs for the first time since May 25-27, 2012.
“It’s a good feeling sitting in there and before you even throw your first pitch you’ve got a five-spot,” Sale said. “It was fun to watch. It was an offensive explosion.”
They’d need several more weeks of pyrotechnical displays from the offense to get back into the postseason picture.
Winners of three straight, the White Sox are still five games under .500 mostly because of an offense that has underperformed all season. Just three days ago, the once-hopeful White Sox capped off a 1-5 homestand in which they scored 18 runs against the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals.
Entering the series, the White Sox, who finished with 16 hits, had averaged 3.37 runs per game. They’ve increased that average to 3.52 runs, which would still be tied for the ninth-worst total in franchise history.
Despite the offseason additions of Cabrera and LaRoche, the team’s bats have collectively been cold. You couldn’t point a finger at any one player as the cause because everyone has struggled, many having the worst seasons of their careers.
Not this weekend.
The same as Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana before him, Sale received lavish run support as he was treated to a five-run lead before he set foot on the mound.
Adam Eaton, who had two walks and two hits, Tyler Saladino and Cabrera all singled off Carlos Carrasco to put the White Sox ahead 1-0. Abreu singled in two more to put his team up by three and after an Alexei Ramirez two-out double, Flowers knocked in two more to make it 5-0.
Sanchez made it a six-run game with a 404-foot drive to right-center in the fourth off Carrasco.
“We started the second half a little weak with the offense, but right now we are hitting good,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “The results are on the scoreboard and in the score today — 10 runs, it’s good. It’s good when you have a moment like this when everybody is hitting the ball well.”
Everyone got in on the act as the White Sox added on late.
Eaton and Saladino, who went 3-for-5, singled ahead of Cabrera’s RBI single in the seventh off Austin Adams. LaRoche picked up his first RBI since July 8 with a two-out, run-scoring hit off Adams to make it 8-1.
They still weren’t done.
The White Sox added two more in the ninth as Abreu followed a single by Saladino and double by Cabrera with a single to right to make it 9-3. Avisail Garcia also singled in a run, the last White Sox starter to pick up a hit.
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“A lot of times you see maybe in a game like that you kind of fizzle out,” Sale said. “But we’re fighting ‘til the end and it’s fun to watch.”
Sale made easy work of Cleveland, retiring 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. The left-hander allowed a run in the fifth inning and another in the seventh. Sale struck out seven as he limited the Indians to two runs and seven hits. He threw strikes on 76 of 109 pitches.
In all likelihood the White Sox season is finished. The only chance for resuscitation would be an extended offensive renaissance, something theteam has proven incapable of providing so far.
“If we play like that, yeah,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It was great to see. They added on, especially in the first inning you get the balls going through the infield and everybody, it is contagious. You get a good feeling of guys going up there and having good at-bats.”