CHICAGO (AP) — Brazilian right-hander Andre Rienzo may be hitting a wall in his first year in the big leagues.
Rienzo lasted only four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits — including a pair of homers — and four walks, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 8-1 on Saturday night.
Rienzo (2-2), who was called up July 30, has allowed five or more runs in three of his last four starts and watched his ERA jump to 5.04 with the rough outing. The 25-year-old doesn’t believe fatigue is a factor in his recent struggles, saying he just needs to do a better job of keeping the ball down.
“It’s the first time I play ball in September,” he said. “But I don’t feel tired. I feel good. I need to figure out little things to help me. If I can figure them out, I know I’ll make the ball club next year. It’s simple.”
The Indians batted around and took a 5-0 lead in the fourth.
With one out and Carlos Santana on first, Asdrubal Cabrera lofted his 13th homer to right to make it 2-0. After Jason Giambi walked and Yan Gomes singled, Lonnie Chisenhall added his 10th home run of the season.
Rienzo was relieved by Charlie Leesman after walking Santana to open the fifth.
Including his time in the minors, Rienzo has tossed 163 innings this year — but that doesn’t include the innings he accrued anchoring the Brazilian staff while pitching in the World Baseball Classic.
Manager Robing Ventura was hopeful that Rienzo still had some gas left in the tank for the final few weeks of the season.
“There are probably parts of that that’s there,” Ventura said when asked if Rienzo was fatigued after a long season. “He’s been going full-bore even during spring training when he went to Japan to pitch for Brazil. He’s been pitching a lot longer than everybody else at max effort, really.”
Chicago’s offense didn’t do Rienzo any favors, getting shut down by Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez (12-9) scattered eight hits and struck out eight to win his third straight start, falling just two outs shy of his ninth career complete game and fourth shutout. With Justin Masterson on the shelf with an oblique injury, Jimenez has embraced his opportunity to become the staff’s ace.
“Whether you have Masterson sidelined or not, when he takes the ball right now, he’s legit kind of top of the league stuff,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “You look at his numbers since a couple months now, it’s pretty damn good.”
Jimenez helped lead the Indians to their 11th straight win over the White Sox and third overall as Cleveland kept pace in the AL wild-card race. The White Sox have lost 14 of their last 16 overall and fell to a season-worst 32 games below .500.
Catcher Josh Phegley, who went 3-for-3 with a double and drove in the Sox only run, knows his team’s struggles against the Indians have kept keep their rivals in the playoff hunt.
“I saw the stats flash a couple of nights ago where they are .500 against the league and then like (14-2) against us now,” Phegley said. “We’ve single-handedly put them in the playoff race basically. I don’t know. They’ve got our number and it’s something. It’s either a close game or a big game. But we’ve got one more shot at them and we are going to try to get them.”
NOTES: Rienzo and Gomes are the only two Brazilians in the majors. Rienzo is the first Brazilian pitcher in MLB. … Injured Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson, who leads the team with 14 wins, did not throw Saturday after playing long-toss on two previous days. He’s expected to throw again Sunday. … Francona said he’s sticking to the “one-game-at-time” approach when asked about the Indians chances of grabbing a playoff spot. “Logic says this probably going to go down near the wire,” he said. “I think we just need to worry about winning tonight.” … White Sox 1B/DH Adam Dunn, who is 3 for his last 34, was held out of the lineup on Saturday and Ventura said 1B/DH Paul Konerko would rest on Sunday. … Cleveland RHP Zach McAllister (7-9) is scheduled to face White Sox LHP and ace Chris Sale (11-12) in Sunday’s finale.
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