Series Preview #30: Chicago White Sox (44-49) at Cleveland Indians (45-46)
Bob Toth | On 11, Jul 2014
If you want to win a division, it is best to win within your division. The Cleveland Indians will continue a pursuit of the American League Central Division crown as they host the rival Chicago White Sox in a three-game set this weekend to conclude the unofficial first half of the regular season before the All-Star Break.
The Indians (45-46) split a four-game series with the New York Yankees during the week, trading off wins each night. The Yankees won Monday, 5-3, defeating Justin Masterson in another short start for the starter. The Indians returned the favor, 5-3, on Tuesday, defeating AL All-Star Masahiro Tanaka in what could be his final start of the season after partially tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. A solo home run by Jacoby Ellsbury off of Vinnie Pestano in the 14th inning gave the Yankees a 5-4 win on Wednesday night. The Indians’ offense erupted on Thursday, scoring nine runs in the final two innings in a 9-3 victory.
The White Sox (44-49) sit in fourth place in the AL Central behind the Tribe. They split with the Boston Red Sox during the week, winning the first two games by four and five runs before dropping the last two games in Boston by one run, including a walk-off on Thursday night.
Corey Kluber (8-6, 2.86 ERA) will make his final first half start in Friday’s 7:05 PM ET first pitch. He is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in seven career games against the White Sox. Hector Noesi (3-5, 4.13) will oppose. He allowed just one earned run on five hits in seven and one-thirds innings in a no-decision against the Indians on May 28th.
Zach McAllister (3-4, 5.89) will return to the big league rotation on Saturday in the 3:05 PM ET start. He replaces the injured Masterson. His last Major League start was on May 21st, but he was 5-0 in six starts at Triple-A Columbus with a 2.23 ERA. He is 3-1 in his career against Chicago. Scott Carroll (3-5, 4.52) will take the ball for manager Robin Ventura. He is 1-1 in two games against the Indians and has yet to allow an earned run against them.
Trevor Bauer (3-4, 4.23) will conclude the first half of the season for the Indians against left-hander John Danks (8-6, 4.15). Bauer was shelled in his only career start against the White Sox, allowing five earned runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning in a doubleheader in Chicago. Danks is 5-10 with a 5.45 ERA lifetime against Cleveland in 20 career starts, including a 4-4 record at Progressive Field.
All three games will be broadcast by the Indians on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. White Sox broadcasts will vary, with Comcast SportsNet+ carrying Friday’s game, Comcast SportsNet airing Saturday’s game, and WGN showing Sunday afternoon’s contest. All three will air on WSCR 670 in Chicago.
The White Sox have handled the Indians this season, winning seven of the first ten contests between the two clubs, despite both teams scoring an equal 46 runs against one another this season. Chicago swept the last series between the two teams at the end of May in the Windy City, winning the final game in walk-off fashion. The Indians took two of three the last time the teams met at Progressive Field.
Chicago holds a 35-game advantage in the all-time series between the two franchises in nearly 2,100 games played. The Indians are 542-497 when hosting their division rivals.
The Indians have starting pitcher Masterson (right knee inflammation), center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain), and designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan (sprained PCL in his right knee) remains on the 60-day disabled list.
Cleveland made a roster move on Friday, calling up rookie Austin Adams from Triple-A Columbus. Thursday’s starter T.J. House was optioned back to Triple-A, as the club will not need a fifth starter until next weekend. An additional roster move will be needed to add McAllister to the 25-man roster on Saturday.
Catcher George Kottaras, who was designated for assignment by the club for the second time this season, was claimed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who needed a replacement for injured National League All-Star catcher Yadier Molina.
Chicago will be without three pitchers and an outfielder for the series with the Indians.
Closer Nate Jones (back surgery) remains on the 60-day disabled list. Pitchers Matt Lindstrom (subluxed left ankle tendon) and Felipe Paulino (right rotator cuff inflammation) are both on the 15-day disabled list.
Outfielder Avisail Garcia took batting practice on July 8th while recovering from left shoulder surgery in April.
Ryan Raburn is a .359 hitter lifetime against Danks with three home runs and eleven runs batted in. Jason Kipnis has hit .375 against him in 19 plate appearances and Yan Gomes has four doubles in seven at bats against him (.571).
Jose Abreu is 2-for-6 with a solo home run and three strikeouts against Kluber. In his first season in Major League Baseball, he is an AL All-Star while batting .287 with 28 home runs and 71 runs batted in and is a near shoe-in for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo are both .313 career hitters against Kluber. Both have struggled against McAllister, as Dunn is a .125 hitter with two hits (double and a home run) and ten strikeouts in 20 plate appearances and Viciedo is a .154 hitter in 13 trips to the plate against him.
All-Star shortstop Alexei Ramirez has crushed all things Cleveland this season, but not quite as well in Cleveland itself. He is hitting .283 on the season with eight home runs and 41 RBI. He is batting .350 against the Indians with a pair of homers and seven driven in, but is batting just .167 in his three games at Progressive Field.
Chicago’s Chris Sale defeated Kluber and three others in the AL Final Vote for a fan-selected All-Star spot. He is 8-1 on the season in 14 starts with a 2.08 ERA. He is 1-0 against Cleveland this season in two starts, but will not see the Indians this weekend.
LUCK IN LEFT FIELD
Michael Brantley has two hits in five at bats against Carroll, who has otherwise limited the Indians. He is hitting .484 in the last week with a pair of home runs to extend his career high to 14. The first-time All-Star has hit in seven straight games, six of which were multi-hit efforts.
The injury to Bourn moved Brantley from his usual left field spot to center. The Indians acquired Chris Dickerson from Pittsburgh in a trade last week and he has taken full advantage of his playing time, batting .467 in his first four games. He has hit in all four games and has five hits in his last ten at bats while manning left field.
Jack Harshman was a left-handed pitcher and first baseman for the White Sox and Indians in the 1950s and 1960s after a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He debuted with the New York Giants in 1948, appearing in five games as a first baseman after being acquired for three players and cash from the Pacific Coast League’s San Diego Padres club. He came up again in 1950, playing nine games at first. Two years later, he made his pitching debut and remained on the mound for the rest of his career, outside of two innings at first base in Chicago in 1954.
He was purchased by the White Sox from the Giants late in the 1953 season and put together three straight double-digit win seasons, primarily as a starting pitcher, for the Pale Hose. During his 14-8 season in 1954, he struck out 16 batters in a game and threw a separate 16-inning complete game shutout against the Detroit Tigers.
After an 8-8 season in 1957, he was traded to Baltimore with former Indian Larry Doby, future Indian Russ Heman, and Jim Marshall for another future Indian, Tito Francona, as well as Billy Goodman and Ray Moore.
He was traded by Baltimore midway through the 1959 season to Boston. Cleveland claimed him off of waivers from the Red Sox a month and a half later. He spent the rest of the 1959 season and parts of 1960 in an Indians uniform, posting a 7-5 record with a 3.22 ERA in 28 games, including 14 starts and five complete games.
Harshman would have celebrated his 87th birthday on Sunday. He passed away last August in Texas.
The Indians will not return to the field together until next Friday, when they begin a four-game series in Detroit against the front-running Tigers. Thirty-nine of the Indians final 68 games in the second half will be against AL Central foes. The White Sox will return home for a six-game homestand on Friday against Houston and Kansas City.
Welcome back, LeBron.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images