McAllister, balanced offense pace Tribe in walk-off win
Starter tosses two scoreless frames; Wendle drives in game-winner
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians rolled out a lineup fit for Opening Day on Wednesday, when the club renewed its American League Central rivalry with the White Sox. As was the case throughout last summer, Cleveland spread its offense up and down the order.
In a 5-4 win over Chicago, lineup regulars Yan Gomes, David Murphy, Carlos Santana and Mike Aviles each came through with run-scoring hits for the Tribe. Gomes' RBI single in the second inning came off White Sox starter Erik Johnson, who projects to open the season as Chicago's likely fourth starter.
"It was the first one, I got it under my belt," Johnson said. "I thought I could've done a little bit more with throwing first-pitch strikes and working ahead, but overall it was a good one to start off with."
The 24-year-old Johnson -- selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft -- surrendered the lone run on three hits, ending with two strikeouts and one walk. In the second, Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a two-out double and then crossed the plate when Gomes sliced a pitch into right field for a single.
Cleveland right-hander Zach McAllister, who has a spot reserved in the rotation, turned in two clean innings against Chicago. McAllister yielded just one hit and finished his part in the afternoon with one strikeout and one walk. The righty did not get a chance to test out his new slider, but he did use the outing to focus on pounding the inside of the strike zone against right-handed batters.
"I felt good," McAllister said. "It wasn't as good as my first one. In my first outing, I was really consistent. I felt better in the second inning today than I did in the first one. I was able to stay in my delivery a little bit better and get the ball downhill. I was able to work on things, pitching in to righties. I was able to do that the whole time, so I was happy about that."
Indians manager Terry Francona likes what he has seen from McAllister this spring.
"The first inning, he had to fight to kind of get it down a little bit. He was kind of getting under it a little bit," Francona said. "But, man, he's throwing the ball like, he looks like he worked really hard this winter. I hate to talk about velocity, but when you can pitch at a nice comfortable velocity, and you've got a little extra, it kind of shows how hard he worked. His arm strength is tremendous."
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin -- competing for the lone vacancy on the starting staff -- was charged with two runs on three hits in three innings. Tomlin, who is the first Tribe starter to stretch out to three frames this spring, struck out two and walked one in the effort.
In the third inning, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu -- signed out of Cuba for six years and $68 million -- drove a pitch from Tomlin to right-center field for a two-run double. Abreu also drew a walk in the first inning against McAllister.
"Pretty good. Actually, really good," Francona said of Tomlin's outing. "I think the kid Abreu is going to be good. He took some real good swings, and he kind of fought that one off for that double. But I thought Josh was down and crisp, and I thought [he was] better than the last outing."
John Axford, Cleveland's new closer, surrendered a towering leadoff home run to Chicago third baseman Conor Gillaspie in the seventh inning. Alex Liddi then used a solo shot off Indians left Scott Barnes in the eighth to pull the game into a 4-4 tie.
Facing White Sox pitcher Eric Surkamp in the fourth inning, the Indians broke through for two runs. Cabrera singled and later scored when Murphy (the Tribe's new right fielder) contributed an RBI triple that carried to deep right. Aviles followed with a run-scoring double of his own to push the Indians to a 3-2 lead. Santana added an RBI double in the fifth.
Joe Wendle drove in the game-winning run with a two-out single off Deunte Heath in the ninth, scoring Tyler Naquin, who walked to start the frame, from second base.
"It's fun for everybody," Francona said of Wendle's game-winner. "Joey Wendle, man, that was fun to watch. He was excited. We were excited. I don't think we'd ever make light of the fact that it's quarter to four in a Spring Training game in the afternoon. We want our guys to do well and feel it, whether it's Spring Training or not. They'll learn something from that."
Up next: Cleveland's bullpen competition will be on display on Wednesday, when the Indians head to Peoria, Ariz., to take on the Mariners in a 3:05 p.m. ET Cactus League clash, airing live on an exclusive indians.com audio webcast. Setup man Bryan Shaw is slated to pitch, along with bullpen hopefuls David Aardsma, Nick Hagadone, Colt Hynes and Blake Wood. Right-hander Travis Banwart is slated to start for the Tribe.