Matsuzaka works into sixth; Indians lose in ninth
Right-hander allows two runs over 5 1/3; Langwell walks in game-winner
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Appearing in a Cactus League game for the first time since being released and re-signed earlier this week, Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed 5 1/3 quality innings for the Indians on Wednesday while White Sox reliever Jesse Crain continued to work his way back from a leg injury as Chicago squeezed out a 5-4 win at Camelback Ranch.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Steve Tolleson walked against Matt Langwell to force home the game-winning run.
In his longest outing of the spring, Matsuzaka allowed two runs on five hits while striking out three. The Indians initially signed the Japanese pitcher to a Minor League contract in the offseason but released him on Sunday to avoid paying him a $100,000 retention bonus. Then, on Tuesday, Cleveland inked the right-hander to another deal, ensuring that he will begin the season at Triple-A Columbus.
In 13 1/3 innings this spring, Matsuzaka allowed four earned runs.
"I thought he did a better job today of establishing his offspeed pitches," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He managed his pitch count. I thought it was good. I think the more he pitches, the more comfortable he looks."
Francona added that Matsuzaka has also appeared more confident as the spring has progressed.
"I actually do, yeah," Francona said. "I think that's to be expected. That's why we wanted to re-sign him, bring him back and let him pitch in Triple-A, and see where it takes him."
Meanwhile, after three White Sox Minor Leaguers pitched the first five innings, Crain came in for the sixth and surrendered two runs on three hits.
The outing marked just the third time this spring the right-hander has appeared in a Cactus League game. Crain has been hobbled throughout camp with a sore right adductor muscle.
"It was the first day I really didn't think about my leg at all, so that in itself is a positive step," Crain said. "Obviously, the results aren't something you put too much thought in, but you don't want to go out there and give up hits either. I am happy, though. I'm getting closer and closer."
The 31-year-old will throw once more in an exhibition game against the Brewers in Milwaukee this weekend before the club decides whether or not he will be on the Opening Day roster. If the White Sox decide he's not ready, Brian Omogrosso would likely take the final 25-man spot.
"That's not my decision," Crain said of being on the Opening Day roster. "What's not good is we can't back date [a potential DL stint] since I pitched in a game, so I'd be two weeks out. I don't feel like I'm two weeks away from being in my normal form. I feel like I'm much closer. That's a decision they are going to have to make, though. Hopefully, I can go out there on Friday and put everything together."
The White Sox broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning when Gordon Beckham drove home Angel Sanchez with a RBI single to left field. Later in the frame, Alejandro De Aza extended Chicago's lead to two on an RBI bunt single.
The Indians didn't trail long, however, first tying the game in the sixth off Crain before taking the lead in the eighth on a two-run single off the bat of Erik Gonzalez.
Sanchez answered back in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run homer to left field, tying the game once again at 4.
With more than 6,000 in attendance Wednesday, the White Sox finished their time at Camelback Ranch this spring with 90,729 fans.
Up next: Sinkerballer Justin Masterson will take the mound for the Indians on Thursday for his final tuneup before his Opening Day outing against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Masterson is scheduled to log five innings in the 3:05 p.m. ET Cactus League contest against the Padres in Peoria, Ariz. All-Star closer Chris Perez, along with relievers Joe Smith, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw, are also slated to pitch for Cleveland. The game will air on Gameday Audio.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.