Series Preview #36: Chicago White Sox (40-62) at Cleveland Indians (56-48)
Bob Toth | On 29, Jul 2013
One month ago, the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox met at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. A successful four-game sweep later, the Indians left town for Kansas City tied for first place.
This could be an interesting time for the White Sox (40-62), one of the few teams across baseball known to be in selling mode as the calendar approaches the end of July. The White Sox team that enters town for this series will very likely look at least slightly different when it leaves after Thursday’s game.
The Indians (56-48) played inspired baseball this past weekend against the American League West’s second place Texas Rangers. Cleveland pushed its post All-Star break record to 5-4 and extended a stretch of good baseball at home. With a pair of shutouts, they now own a Major League high of 14 shutouts on the season, with eleven of them coming in Cleveland. They are on a season-best seven game home winning streak
Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.57 ERA) will make his second start since returning from the disabled list in Monday’s 7:05 PM ET start. John Danks (2-8, 4.81) has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last six starts, but has a 1-4 record in that span to show for it.
Scott Kazmir (6-4, 3.96) will make Tuesday’s 7:05 PM ET first pitch. In his last seven starts, he is 3-0, is averaging more than six innings per appearance, and has a 1.60 ERA with 35 strikeouts to 12 walks. Jake Peavy (8-4, 4.28) is scheduled to pitch for Chicago, but as the perceived top available starting pitcher on the trading market, there is the off chance that he could be dealt prior to this start. The former Cy Young pitcher won his lone start against Cleveland earlier this season.
Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.74) will take the mound for Wednesday’s 7:05 PM ET start. He is 1-0 in five July starts with a 2.67 ERA, but the Indians have ultimately won four of the five games. Jose Quintana (5-3, 3.55) will oppose for Chicago. He allowed two runs in seven innings against Kansas City in his last start and was dealt a loss. He is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his career against Cleveland.
Another All-Star matchup will take place in Thursday’s 12:05 PM ET start. Justin Masterson (12-7, 3.42), fresh off of a win against Yu Darvish, will start for the Tribe. He is 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA and two complete game shutouts this season against Chicago. Chris Sale (6-10, 2.69) has been shelled this season by the Indians, as he has allowed eleven runs on 15 hits in 12 1/3 innings (8.03 ERA) in a pair of losses.
Cleveland broadcasts of all four games will be available on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. Broadcasts in Chicago will vary, with Monday’s game on Comcast SportsNet Plus, Tuesday’s game on WCIU, and the remainder of the series on Comcast SportsNet. All four will air on the White Sox Radio Network.
The reeling White Sox come to Cleveland after a three-game sweep against the visiting Kansas City Royals in Chicago.
James Shields held the White Sox scoreless for seven innings, despite allowing eight hits, and the Royals struck for two against Quintana and three more off of the bullpen to capture a 5-1 win on Friday. Conor Gillaspie scored the lone White Sox run with an eighth inning home run.
Wade Davis and the Royals bullpen outlasted the complete game contribution of Sale for the White Sox, as the Royals won Saturday by a 1-0 final. Sale struck out seven and allowed seven hits and a walk in nine innings. The only damage in the game was a sixth inning RBI double by Lorenzo Cain.
A back-and-forth game Sunday afternoon took 12 innings to complete, but when all was said and done in Chicago, the Royals were 4-2 victors. An RBI-single by Paul Konerko tied the game at one in the first and a solo home run by Adam Dunn in the sixth retied the game at two. Alex Gordon drove a go-ahead two-run home run to center in the 12th and Greg Holland secured his 27th save of the year.
Indians killer Alejandro De Aza is batting .350 since the All-Star break. He owns a .360 career batting average against the Indians over the last four years with four home runs and 26 RBI. This season, he is batting .303 with two home runs, five RBI, and has scored eight times.
Sale has started two games in the second half and lost both, despite allowing just three earned runs (1.59 ERA) over the 17 innings pitched. He has the best ERA on the season (2.69) for a qualified pitcher with a losing record.
Reliever and potential trade candidate Jesse Crain is on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain. He was unable to throw off of the mound late last week due to a setback while attempting to rehab the injury.
This past weekend, for the first time in 33 years, the Indians swept the Texas Rangers in Cleveland. They improved to 11-0 at home against the AL West and 16-4 overall.
On Friday, the Indians lost an early six run lead, but Ryan Raburn saved the day, sending a three-run walkoff home run into the night for an 11-8 Cleveland win. Nick Swisher hit a home run in the first. Michael Bourn drove in three on a groundout in the second and a two-run single in the fourth. Joe Smith allowed two in the eighth before Chris Perez and Bryan Shaw combined for three scoreless innings from the ninth inning on to give the Indians the opportunity to win it.
Masterson, Smith, and Perez combined on a five-hit shutout on Saturday night, as Masterson outdueled fellow All-Star Darvish in a 1-0 victory. The lone run of the game came on the second pitch of the at bat of leadoff hitter Bourn in the first inning. Masterson defeated the Rangers for the first time in his career. He has three separate 1-0 victories this season. The win marked the first time that the Indians only run in a 1-0 win came by a leadoff home run.
Ubaldo Jimenez gave the Indians eight innings of two-hit ball and the offense erupted for six runs on the way to a 6-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon. An RBI-single by Jason Kipnis in the fifth gave Cleveland their first run. Yan Gomes delivered the same in the sixth before Bourn followed with a two-run double. A two-run home run by Mike Aviles in the eighth capped the scoring.
Reserve catcher Gomes is batting .368 over his last ten games with one home run. He has scored five runs while driving in four. His defense and game-calling ability may earn him more playing time.
Bourn has driven in 12 runs since the All-Star break while batting .290. The 12 RBI are the second-highest total since the break in all of baseball. He batted .290 in the first half with 19 RBI in 68 games.
Perez has thrown 13 times since returning from the 15-day disabled list. During that time, he has a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings. He has converted all eight save opportunities and his dominant effort in Friday night’s ball game (two innings, no hits or walks, one strikeout, 18 pitches, 13 strikes) gave the team a chance to win.
The Indians have a streak of 21 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball after a blown save in the eighth inning against Texas on Friday.
After the completion of the series on Thursday, Chicago will head to Detroit for three. The Indians will fly to Miami for a three game weekend series before returning home again.
Photo: Thomas Ondrey/Cleveland Plain Dealer