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Series Preview #4: Chicago White Sox (4-5) at Cleveland Indians (3-5)

Series Preview #4: Chicago White Sox (4-5) at Cleveland Indians (3-5)

| On 12, Apr 2013

Two slumping American League Central teams will meet in downtown Cleveland and, unless Mother Nature continues to interfere, at least one of these teams will break their losing ways.

The Chicago White Sox are in the middle of a ten game road trip that got off to a rough start against the Washington Nationals during the week. After beginning the season with two off days in the first eight days, they have an awful span of 20 straight days with a game. They have yet to win a road game so far this season and return home in a week to begin a span of ten days of home cooking.

The Cleveland Indians were washed out of a pair of games in a four-game home series against the New York Yankees. The Indians are in the middle of what was supposed to be ten games in eleven days at home after starting the season with six on the road.

After a 4-2 start to the season, the White Sox stumbled during the week in the nation’s capital against the Washington Nationals.

Chicago fell in the opener on Tuesday by an 8-7 final. The Nationals were able to get to White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who allowed six earned runs and nine hits over five and one-third innings of work. Washington torched him for three home runs and added a fourth by Adam LaRoche in the eighth. Paul Konerko hit his first home run, a three-run shot, off of reliever Tyler Clippard in the seventh inning to make it a 6-5 game at the time. Alex Rios’s two-run homer (his fourth of the season) off of closer Rafael Soriano in the ninth cut the game to one, but that was as close as the Sox would get.

On Wednesday, the White Sox once again jumped out to an early lead before losing it in the middle innings. White Sox starter Gavin Floyd earned the loss in the 5-2 Nationals win, pitching five and one-third innings and allowing five earned runs on nine hits and three walks. Jordan Zimmerman allowed just two runs over seven for the win. Bryce Harper hit his fourth home run on the year for Washington.

Washington finished off the three-game sweep in Thursday’s finale, 7-4. Despite allowing 10 hits in five innings, Dan Haren minimized the damage for Washington, giving up just three runs. Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 5.79) took the loss for the White Sox. He allowed six earned runs and four walks and was unable to make it out of the fourth.

Dropping the three-game set moved the White Sox (4-5) from the top of the division to the middle of the pack.

In injury news, Chicago has lost starting second baseman Gordon Beckham with a broken hamate bone in his left wrist that will require surgery. The team is hoping he will be able to return in late May. He had six hits in his first 19 at bats (.316) in his seven games before the injury.

Starting pitcher John Danks is on the 15-day disabled list while he continues to recover from a 2012 surgery on his left shoulder. He is working in extended Spring Training and may be back in the Windy City in early May.

Pitcher Leyson Septimo is also on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain, dating back to March 22nd.

Rios has been hot through the first nine White Sox games. He is batting .429 with three doubles, four home runs, and eight runs batted in. He hit .348 at Progressive Field last season and batted .311 with ten RBI against the Indians as a whole last season. He had four hits in seven at bats against Justin Masterson in 2012.

Konerko feasted on Indians pitching last year, much like he has done throughout his career. He hit .323 with three home runs, six doubles, and 15 runs batted in. His 46 career home runs against Cleveland are good for his second highest total against any one team.

Adam Dunn, like Konerko, did some damage against Cleveland last year as well. His six home runs and 14 runs batted in were season-highs against any one opponent. He was 5-for-13 against Masterson. He struck out four times in six plate appearances against Zach McAllister, but he also homered and walked once.

Mother Nature intervened in Cleveland this week, stealing two games of the four-game set between the Indians and Yankees.

Cleveland’s home opener was spoiled 11-6 by an offensive eruption from the unrecognizable Yankees lineup and a return of the bad Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez (0-1, 6.97) allowed seven earned runs in less than five innings of work. Travis Hafner, in his return to Cleveland, homered in his first at bat and drove in four runs on the game. Robinson Cano ended a 3-for-23 drought with a three-hit performance, including a double and two home runs. Catcher Carlos Santana was injured in the ninth inning when he was crossed up behind the plate by a pitch from Chris Perez.

Tuesday was a bit of déjà vu for both teams as the Yankees pummeled the Indians by a 14-1 final. Indians starter Carlos Carrasco allowed seven earned runs and a pair of home runs in three and two-thirds innings and was ejected from the game after hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch immediately after a Cano home run. Brett Myers, who was slated to start Wednesday’s game, was inserted into the game in long relief to save the Indians bullpen for the coming games. He saved the ‘pen but fueled the Yankees’ fire, allowing seven runs in his second straight appearance and giving up three more home runs. Cano had three extra base hits and five RBI.

Both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games were victim of spring showers in Cleveland and will be rescheduled for another date in the season. The series marked the lone trip to Cleveland for the Yankees.

The Indians (3-5) have slipped to the cellar in the Central, two and a half games behind the first-place Kansas City Royals.

After his poor start and ejection, Carrasco was sent to Triple-A Columbus. Major League Baseball announced on Friday afternoon that the Indians starter has been suspended for eight games. He is eligible to pitch in the minor leagues.

Corey Kluber had been recalled to take his spot in the rotation and was slated to start on Wednesday night prior to the rain out. He was optioned back to Columbus on Friday afternoon.

Reliever Matt Albers has been placed on paternity leave. Nick Hagadone has been recalled from Columbus.

Designated hitter Jason Giambi was finally activated from the disabled list Friday. He had remained on the disabled list longer than expected due to the roster crunch with the injuries to the Indians’ primary two backstops.

The injury to Santana and the existing injury to Lou Marson forced the Indians to make some roster moves to bring in catchers during the Yankees series. Yan Gomes was recalled from Columbus and started Tuesday’s game. The contract of Omir Santos was also purchased from Columbus prior to that game. Marson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with his cervical (neck) strain. Santana was able to catch a bullpen session and hit in the batting cages on April 11th, a good sign for Indians fans.

Santana was hitting the ball hard prior to his injury. He had reached base in eight straight plate appearances until his strikeout in the eighth inning of Monday’s game. He is batting .500 on the season (13 hits in 26 at bats). He has drawn four walks to just two strikeouts and has six extra base hits.

Jason Kipnis has started slow so far this season. He is batting just .138 on the young season, but three of his four hits have been doubles. He has four hits in ten career at bats against Chris Sale. He has four career home runs against the White Sox, tied for the most he has against any one team.

The White Sox lead the head-to-head matchups between the two clubs with a 1,046-1,000 record. Chicago is the opponent second most frequently played in Indians’ history. They dominated the season series last year, taking eleven of 18 games and outscoring the Indians, 120-72.

Jose Quintana (0-0, 11.25) will begin the series for the White Sox on Friday. He allowed six runs (five earned) in four innings in his first start of the season against Seattle. He earned his first career win against the Indians last season. Masterson (2-0, 0.69) will make his first home start of the season for the Indians. He has looked like an ace in defeating both R.A. Dickey and David Price in each of his first two starts.

Saturday will see a matchup between Sale and McAllister. Sale (1-0, 1.84) will make his third start of the season and his first on the road. He is 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 14 career games and three starts against Cleveland. McAllister (0-1, 3.00) allowed four runs (two earned) in his first start of the season and was bumped back in the rotation after the addition of Carrasco and two rain outs.

Peavy and Myers will toe the rubber in Sunday’s finale. Peavy (1-1, 5.56) gave up three home runs and six earned runs in his last start against Washington. Myers (0-1, 12.19) lost his first start and worked in relief his next time out. He has allowed seven earned runs in each appearance and has given up seven home runs on the season.

Friday night’s series opener is scheduled for a 7:05 PM ET start from Cleveland. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and WGN. Saturday will see an afternoon 4:05 PM ET start and Sunday’s first pitch will come at 1:05 PM ET. Both Saturday and Sunday television broadcasts will be on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Comcast SportsNet. Radio broadcasts of all three games can be heard on both the White Sox and Cleveland Indians radio networks.

The White Sox will head north after the series to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for four games. After their first scheduled day off of the season on Monday, the Indians will welcome the Boston Red Sox into town for three games. Chicago and Cleveland will see each other soon – the two will face off in Chicago beginning April 22nd.

Photo: J. Meric / Getty Images

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