White Sox unravel vs. Indians, drop series opener

CLEVELAND — A day after giving up 21 runs and 25 hits to the Astros, the White Sox struck out 14 times against Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie Friday night.

Posting monster numbers as such is a scary-bad way to win a pennant race.

McKenzie gave up a pair of runs in the first inning of the first game of an important series between the AL Central leading Guardians and third-place Sox. Then he went on a strikeout rampage, racking up a career high 14 with no walks in seven innings.

After McKenzie’s final pitch, the young Guardians (64-55) sent 10 pesky hitters to the plate in a four-run seventh, the Sox unraveled in a 5-2 loss, dropping them 3 1/2 games behind in the chase for first. Sox reliever Reynaldo Lopez gave up a double to Luke Maile, a tying triple to Steven Kwan and a go-ahead single to Amed Rosario, and lefty Jake Diekman walked two batters on 3-2 counts before giving up a two-run single to Andres Gimenez.

The Sox, who lost their third in a row, should have got to McKenzie when they had him staggered early. But they failed to tack on after scoring two in the first, an inning that ended with Yasmani Grandal rapping into a double play with runners on the corners. The game started with AJ Pollock’s single on the first pitch, Eloy Jimenez’s double, Jose Abreu’s infield RBI single and Yoan Moncada’s lined RBI single.

After that, McKenzie (9-9, 3.11 ERA) racked up the strikeouts, matching his career high 12th by fanning Abreu and Moncada in the sixth, capping a roll of five strikeouts in six batters. He finished the seventh and his night striking out Elvis Andrus and Josh Harrison.

The Sox had a prime chance in the fifth when Josh Harrison led off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Seby Zavala, AJ Pollock and Andrew Vaughn struck out in order, for the eighth, ninth and 10th strikeouts by McKenzie.

Lance Lynn was very good for the Sox, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings. It came on a home run by Jose Ramirez in the sixth. Lynn, lowering his ERA to 3.06 over his last six starts, struck out six.

Sox hitters struck out 17 times.

Blood and guts

Vaughn was hit in the face by a pitch from Cleveland reliever Trevor Stephan in the eighth inning. The pitch caromed off Vaughn’s shoulder and bloodied Vaughn’s lip, but Vaughn took his base at first. Gavin Sheets took Vaughn’s position in right field.

Jimenez exits during at-bat

Jimenez, batting after Vaughn, left the game after the first pitch, appearing to be in some pain after a swing and a miss.

Jimenez has managed intermittent discomfort in his hamstring area after having surgery to repair a tear in April.

Robert still out

Center fielder Luis Robert missed his seventh straight start with a sore left wrist. La Russa said Robert could be inserted after taking full batting practice, but Robert didn’t look completely comfortable swinging, taking his hand off the bat on some swings.

Robert wants to play, but there is a concern the soreness causes him to alter his swing which could create problems with it when he gets back to full strength.

La Russa again downplayed playing with a short bench, which could have been avoided had Robert gone on the 10-day injured list.

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