Contrary to what today's lineup portended, offense was not the problem.
In the space of three days, the normal 3-4-5 hitters in the Cleveland went down with injuries. It is hoped that none of them are serious, and that a week from now all three will be back in the lineup. Asdrubal Cabrera was held out today's game with a hamstring strain, Travis Hafner didn't make the trip because of a leg injury but is still on the active roster, and Carlos Santana was before today's game placed on the new 7-day Disabled List because of a suspected concussion.
That made today's lineup - at least on paper - a lot less threatening than normal. Jose Lopez, just a month after clearing waivers, was hitting cleanup, and Juan Diaz, who had been hitting .232/.280/.348 in Akron, was in the lineup as the starting shortstop. This lineup would be facing Jake Peavy, who had been to that point one of the league's best pitchers (174 ERA+, 6.6 H/9IP). On paper that combination would seem to add up to a low-scoring output, meaning that Derek Lowe, who has also been one of the AL's best starters, would have to pitch very well for the Indians to have a chance to win.
It turned out that neither starter was very good at all, and that Lowe and the bullpen would be the ones responsible for the Indians losing.
The White Sox would score at least two runs in half of their at-bats, and four runs in three of their at-bats. They got things started in the first inning, with Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn singling with one out. That brought up Paul Konerko, who seems to be getting better with age. Konerko went the other way on a Derek Lowe sinker, giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead. To this point, the Chicago batters were just making good swings on decent pitches. Lowe then made a big mistake to Alex Rios, who hit the ball to straight away center and seemingly over the fence, but Michael Brantley made a Loftonesque catch, leaping at the fence and catching the ball after it had left play. It was a great play, and it could have turned Lowe's day around, as it left runners at second and third with two outs. But after Brantley took away a three-run homer, Lowe allowed three runs to score, starting with A.J. Pierzynski's two-run double.
At this point, with the Indians having gone in order in the first, it looked like the White Sox already had all they needed. But the offense had some surprises in store. With one out in the third inning, Juan Diaz walked, and Lou Marson blooped a single into right field. Shin-Soo Choo then was hit, loading the bases for Michael Brantley. And the cliche about a defensive highlight leading to an offensive one came true this time, for Brantley plugged the right field gap, driving home all three on base. Next up was Jason Kipnis, and he drove a fly ball into the right field jet stream, landing over the fence for a two-run homer, and just like that, the Indians had scored five runs off Peavy to take the lead.
But that lead was short-lived, for Lowe would give up another four runs in the third inning. By this time, it was obvious that his pitches were just not sinking, and a sinker-baller who can't throw sinkers is going to look really bad. He was pulled after 2.1 inning, having given up 10 hits and 8 earned runs.
The Indians actually made a game of it again, because Jason Kipnis hit another two-run homer in the fifth, bringing the Indians to within a run. But besides Jeremy Accardo and Nick Hagadone, the Cleveland bullpen was awful, with normal stalwart Joe Smith allowing four runs in the seventh to put the game completely out of reach. Tony Sipp allowed two more runs in the eighth for good measure.