CLEVELAND — Jason Kipnis thinks now is the time for the Cleveland Indians to start looking like a playoff team.
What may be their last chance starts Friday night with a series at the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.
Chicago right-hander Reynaldo López pitched a one-hitter against the Indians on Thursday for his first big league complete game, a 7-1 win that gave the White Sox a split of the four-game series.
Cleveland lost for the fifth time in seven games. The Indians began the day 5½ games behind the AL Central-leading Twins and tied with Oakland for the second AL wild card, a half-game behind Tampa Bay.
“You’d love to have momentum,” Kipnis said. “You’d love to be gaining ground every single time out. That doesn’t lessen the importance of the series coming up and lessen the intensity we’ll bring. We’ll have to pick ourselves up from this game and forget it real fast.”
Seeking their fourth straight division title, the Indians won three of four at Minnesota from Aug. 8-11 and took a half-game lead following a victory over Boston the following day. Cleveland is 9-13 since and headed to Minnesota without third baseman José Ramírez for the remainder of the regular season because of a broken hand.
“We’ve got to go in there thinking we’re going to win the games. Otherwise what are we doing?” Kipnis said. “You give Minnesota credit, too. They’ve gotten hot and played a little better baseball than we have since that series. If we want to play into October and play as a playoff baseball team, we’ve got to start playing like it.”
López (9-12) pitched his first complete game in 75 career big league starts. The 25-year-old allowed an RBI double in the second to Kevin Plawecki that scored Jake Bauers, who had walked.
López struck out 11, walked three, retired his final 16 batters and threw 109 pitches. He pounded his right fist into his glove when he struck out Franmil Reyes to end the game.
López was appreciative that White Sox manager Rick Renteria gave him the opportunity to get 27 outs.
“I was very excited when Ricky let me go out for the ninth,” he said. “When you have a game like that, you want to finish it.”
Last Saturday against Atlanta, López gave up six runs over two-thirds of an inning in his shortest big league outing.
Welington Castillo hit a two-run homer in the second off Zach Plesac (7-6), who allowed six runs in five-plus innings. The rookie right-hander was removed with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth.
Adam Engel had a two-run single in the sixth off Hunter Wood that made it 6-1. Yolmer Sánchez had two RBIs for Chicago.
Castillo homered after shortstop Francisco Lindor lost Yoán Moncada’s popup in the sun. Lindor drifted into shallow left field but appeared to never pick up the ball, which dropped a couple feet away for a single.
Castillo followed with his ninth homer and added an RBI groundout in the ninth. Sánchez had an RBI single in the fourth and drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth from Wood, who had just entered.
Renteria will undergo surgery on his right rotator cuff Friday in Chicago and miss the weekend series against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
Renteria plans to return to the dugout early next week. Bench coach Joe McEwing will run the team in Renteria’s absence.
“I do intend to play again this year,” Renteria joked.
White Sox: Renteria gave 1B José Abreu, OF Leury García and C James McCann the day off.
Indians: OF Yasiel Puig had the day off. “He’s kind of beat up,” manager Terry Francona said. “I thought it’d be really good for him to take a deep breath.”
White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (14-8, 3.30 ERA), a first-time All-Star, starts as Chicago begins a six-game homestand.
Indians: RHP Adam Plutko (6-4, 4.53 ERA) faces RHP Michael Pineda (11-5, 4.11 ERA) on Friday.