Series Preview #10: Chicago White Sox (14-15) at Cleveland Indians (11-17)
Bob Toth | On 02, May 2014
After an unproductive and unsuccessful 0-6 West Coast trip, the Cleveland Indians and their fans sure could use a hug.
Both are hoping for more fruitful returns in May, as the Indians welcome in the Chicago White Sox for a three game series starting Friday night as the Indians look to end their season-high losing skid at six games.
The Indians (11-17) and their road woes continued as they lost three straight to the Los Angeles Angels to follow a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. The Angels broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run eighth to claim a 6-3 win in the opener. Los Angeles outlasted Cleveland 6-4 on Tuesday night. They put five runs on Zach McAllister on short rest in a 7-1 win on Wednesday.
Chicago (14-15) stumbled back down to earth a bit to draw a split of their homestand after a two-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers during the week. They lost a close one on Tuesday night, 4-3, on a two-out bunt single by Detroit in the top of the ninth. Max Scherzer was on his game on Wednesday, leading the Tigers to a 5-1 victory.
Danny Salazar (0-3, 6.04 ERA) will look for his first win of the season in Friday’s 7:05 PM ET start. He had his longest and best outing of the season his last time out, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in seven innings last Friday. Left-hander John Danks (2-1, 3.48) will take the mound for Robin Ventura’s White Sox. He looks to continue the Indians’ struggles against lefties, as the team is 3-8 against left-handed starters with a .201 batting average.
Justin Masterson (0-1, 4.84) will make the first pitch of Saturday’s ball game at 6:05 PM ET. He threw his longest outing of the season in his last start but was dealt his first decision of the season, a loss in the 6-3 final Monday against Los Angeles. Scott Carroll (1-0, 1.23) pitched into the eighth inning in his Major League debut on April 27th. This will be his first appearance since that outing. The first 10,000 fans in attendance at Saturday’s game will receive a commemorative Orel Hershiser bobblehead.
Corey Kluber (2-3, 4.14) will take the ball in Sunday’s 1:05 PM ET finale. He was roughed up in his last outing for eight hits and four walks and was unable to finish the fifth inning. Andre Rienzo (2-0, 4.05) will oppose for Chicago. He made his Major League debut against Cleveland last season, pitching seven innings while striking out a still career-high six.
Each of the three games will air on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio. Chicago broadcasts will vary again throughout the series. Friday night’s and Sunday afternoon’s games will be shown on Comcast SportsNet while Saturday’s contest will air on WGN. Radio broadcasts featuring Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus will be provided by the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network, while Chicago broadcasts will be on WSCR 670.
TRANSACTIONS and INJURIES
All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. He is expected to miss three to five weeks. Infielder Jose Ramirez was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take his roster spot. Ramirez, in his first season in Triple-A, is batting .319 through 23 games with four home runs and 17 RBI.
Catcher Yan Gomes could leave the team at any point for the Paternity List.
For the White Sox, All-Star pitcher Chris Sale is on the disabled list with a left flexor muscle strain. He is eligible to come off of the disabled list this weekend but will not pitch versus the Indians. The club may instead elect to send him on a minor league rehabilitation game first.
Another starter, right-hander Felipe Paulino, is on the 15-day disabled list. He is scheduled to rehab in a minor league game this weekend while looking to return from right rotator cuff soreness.
Third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who is 0-for-7 in his career against Salazar with five strikeouts, will not have to worry about facing the Tribe’s right-hander. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 22nd with a left hand contusion.
Several players remain on the DL since the last time the two teams met. Outfielder Avisail Garcia (left shoulder surgery) is out for the season. Closer Nate Jones is nursing a lower back injury. Infielder Jeff Keppinger is recovering from shoulder surgery last September.
WHO TO WATCH
Since their last visit together, rookie Jose Abreu has continued his tear across the league. His ten home runs in April set a record for Chicago rookies for any month of the season and tied Jim Thome’s club record for home runs in the month of April. He also holds the title of being the first player in Major League history with four games with four or more RBI in his first 28 career games.
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who destroyed Cleveland pitching the first time against them this season, started the season with a 17-game hitting streak. He had just two hitless games in March and April and ended the month with a White Sox record 40 hits. He leads the American League in hitting at .351 and has owned Salazar, reaching base with six hits in seven plate appearances (.857) against him.
Dayan Viciedo is 0-for-14 in his career with six strikeouts against Masterson.
Michael Bourn is batting .318 in his last ten games. He has hits in ten of his 13 games played this season, including four multi-hit games. Michael Brantley has just one hit in 17 at bats on the road trip, ending the five game hitting streak he started the trip on.
David Murphy is batting .333 at Progressive Field and .308 against right-handed pitching this season. He is second to Brantley (20) in RBI for the Indians with 18.
Carlos Santana busted out of an uncomfortably long slump during the road trip, ending a 3-for-59 span with a 4-for-11 trip through Anaheim, including two home runs and six RBI. He entered the series with just one home run and three runs batted in through the 24 games prior.
KEY SERIES STATS
The Indians have been abysmal with the leather. They have committed at least one error in 19 of their first 28 games. Their 26 errors are the most in the American League and third-highest in baseball. Their .974 fielding percentage is 29th overall. They are tied for first in the AL in passed balls with three and are 25th in double plays turned. They have surrendered the second-most unearned runs in the AL, with their 17 trailing Boston’s 19.
The White Sox took three of four from the Indians in their previous matchup this season, ending a 14-game losing streak against Cleveland. It pushed their all-time advantage against the Indians to 1,051-1,018 in 2,086 games.
JUST CALL ME MINNIE
Wednesday marked the anniversary of the first trade of Minnie Minoso by the Cleveland Indians. On April 30th, 1951, the Indians dealt Minoso in a three-team trade to the White Sox. They also sent catcher Ray Murray and pitcher Sam Zoldak to the Philadelphia Athletics. They received just one player back in the exchange – pitcher and World War II veteran Lou Brissie from the Athletics.
Minoso had played a total of 17 combined games for the Indians in 1949 and 1951. After appearing the first five games of the 1951 season in replacement roles, he strung together six hits in ten at bats in a three game stretch before being dealt. In his first at bat for the White Sox, he hit a home run.
He would play in the Windy City until the end of the 1957 season, making five All-Star appearances. After the season, he was dealt back to Cleveland, where he played two more years before again being dealt to the White Sox in 1960. He played two more seasons with Chicago before joining the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962 and the Washington Senators in 1963. In 1964, he again joined the White Sox for 30 games to end his career…or so it seemed.
Minoso would play three games with the club in 1976 at age 50 and two more games in 1980 at the age of 54, making him the only position player in Major League Baseball history to play in five different decades. He shares the feat with pitcher/comedian/baseball clown Nick Altrock, who played sporadically from 1898 until 1933.
The White Sox will return to Chicago, but not quite yet home, as they play a home-and-home series with the crosstown Chicago Cubs, beginning with two at Wrigley Field. The Indians will continue their homestand with a four game series with the Minnesota Twins.
Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images