Series Preview #42: Cleveland Indians (66-63) at Chicago White Sox (59-71)
Bob Toth | On 26, Aug 2014
It is hard to believe, but the Cleveland Indians are embarking on their second-to-last road trip of the season this week as they head to the Windy City to do battle with the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians (66-63) continued to stay afloat in the divisional and Wild Card races by winning their third straight series and their fourth out of their last five. The Houston Astros came to town for their first and only trip to Progressive Field this season and the Indians once again rode strong starting pitching in three closely contested games. They dropped a 5-1 decision on Friday night, as a ninth inning defensive meltdown tagged Cody Allen with four unearned runs. They bounced back with a walk-off win on Saturday as Jose Ramirez delivered an opposite field game-winning single to left to edge the Astros, 3-2. A lone run in the eighth was the only blemish on the Tribe pitching staff on Sunday as they won a 3-1 final to take the series.
Idle on Monday, their last scheduled day off until September 25th, the Indians made up ground within the division as Kansas City fell to New York. Cleveland is now four games behind Detroit for second place and five and a half in back of KC, who has dropped two straight. In the American League Wild Card mix, they trail the second Wild Card team, Seattle, by four and a half after the Mariners dropped a 2-0 decision on Monday.
The White Sox (59-71) had the opportunity to meddle in the postseason races some over the weekend, but instead were swept in three games at Yankee Stadium to drop their losing streak to six straight. New York claimed a 4-3 walk-off victory on Friday on an RBI-single from Martin Prado. The Yankees won 5-3 on Saturday afternoon as a pair of two-run innings proved to be the difference. A tenth inning walk-off three-run home run from Brian McCann dealt Chicago a 7-4 loss on Sunday.
The Indians will have to conquer a left-hander in Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.25 ERA) in Tuesday’s 8:10 PM ET start from U.S. Cellular Field. Quintana, who made his Major League debut in 2012 against Cleveland, owns a 3-0 record in nine career games against the Indians. Another southpaw, T.J. House (2-3, 3.80), will oppose for the Indians. The rookie has made one career start against Chicago and allowed one run on five hits in six and one-third innings back in May.
Hector Noesi (7-8, 4.39) will go in game two for the Sox in Wednesday’s 8:10 PM ET first pitch. He is having one of his better months of the season, as he is 2-1 in four games and has pitched into the seventh in three of them. Corey Kluber (13-7, 2.46) continues his Cy Young pursuit for Cleveland. He took a tough luck loss in his last start, a quality seven innings against Minnesota, to drop his August numbers to 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four games. He is third in the AL in ERA and strikeouts.
Another lefty, John Danks (9-8, 4.96), will wrap up the series for Chicago in Thursday’s 8:10 PM ET finale. Danks has not won since July 25th and is 5-10 with a 5.21 ERA in 21 career starts against the Indians. Carlos Carrasco (5-4, 3.14) will look to win his third game since returning to the Indians’ starting rotation. He took a no-decision his last time out against Houston, despite allowing just one run on two hits with eight strikeouts in six innings.
Indians broadcasts of all three games will be available on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio. The White Sox will rotate broadcasts over three different channels, with Comcast SportsNet Plus carrying Tuesday’s game, WCIU airing Wednesday’s matchup, and CSN showing the finale. The Cleveland Indians Radio Network affiliates will provide listeners with Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus, while the radio affiliates of the Chicago White Sox can listen to former Major Leaguers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson.
The White Sox have the edge in the head-to-head matchups with the Indians over the years. Chicago has claimed 1,056 wins while Cleveland has been in the win column 1,022 times. The Pale Hose are the Tribe’s second-most frequently played opponent in club history.
The White Sox have held a dominant edge playing in the Windy City, posting a 558-478 record on their home field. They have taken advantage of the home field this season, winning six of the seven times the clubs have met at U.S. Cellular during the first two months of the season. The Indians took two of three in Cleveland the last time the two squared off just prior to the All-Star break in July.
Yan Gomes was placed on the 7-day concussion DL prior to Saturday’s game. Former Indians catcher Chris Gimenez was acquired from the Texas Rangers in a trade Saturday afternoon and has taken his spot on the 25-man roster.
First baseman Nick Swisher will miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees during the week. Right fielder David Murphy (right abdominal strain) is on the 15-day disabled list. Ryan Raburn (right wrist soreness), on the 15-day DL, has begun a rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus, while designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation), on the 60-day DL, will begin his at Double-A Akron on Tuesday.
The White Sox may get outfielder Adam Eaton back from the 15-day DL sometime during the series. He has been out with a strained right oblique. Outfielder Moises Sierra began a rehab assignment at Triple-A on Monday while trying to return from a strained oblique of his own on his left side.
Chicago optioned outfielder Jordan Danks to Triple-A Charlotte on Monday.
BY THE NUMBERS
In the last 13 games, Cleveland starters have combined to post a 1.71 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and have held opposing hitters to a .176 batting average. The team is 9-4 in those games.
The White Sox will throw a pair of left-handers against the Tribe this series. The Indians have a .243 batting average against southpaws, giving them a slight edge over Toronto and Oakland for the worst mark against lefties in the league.
Jason Kipnis has excelled throughout his MLB career in Chicago. He has a lifetime .382 average at U.S. Cellular Field with five home runs and 21 RBI, the most runs he has driven in away from Progressive Field.
Michael Brantley has slumped over the last ten games, hitting .154. He has just two singles in the last week (.105 batting average). Despite the recent lull in his play, Dr. Smooth is still fifth in the American League in batting average (.311), sixth in runs (78), seventh in hits (150), eighth in doubles (32), and ninth in RBI (81).
Jose Abreu put up runs on Cleveland pitching earlier this season and has continued to do so around the league. The rookie first baseman is hitting .308 this season and is second in baseball with 33 home runs and 94 RBI. In ten games against the Indians, he hit .250 with five home runs and seven runs batted in.
Conor Gillaspie is hitting .303 on the season but has fared even better in his career against Cleveland. He owns a .341 lifetime average against the Indians, including a .455 mark this season with seven runs driven in in ten games.
Future Hall of Famer Jim Thome will celebrate his 44th birthday on Wednesday.
The Peoria, Illinois native represented six different teams over his 22 year MLB career, but some of his best years came for the Indians and the White Sox.
Thome was drafted by the Indians and spent 13 years in Cleveland, amassing a club record 337 home runs and batting .287. He drove in 937 runs, second-best in franchise history, and is the team’s all-time leader in walks and strikeouts.
After a three-year stop in Philadelphia, where he was named to the fourth All-Star team of his career in 2004, he joined the White Sox and had his final All-Star season in his first of four years back in Illinois. In that 2006 season, he hit 42 home runs, after hitting just seven in 59 games the year before, and drove in 109 runs, the final time in his career he would eclipse 40 home runs and 100 RBI in a season.
He was traded during the 2009 season to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a playoff push and signed with Minnesota following the season. He spent parts of two seasons with the Twins before returning to the Indians in August of 2011. He split the 2012 season between Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Thome officially announced his retirement on the day his statue was unveiled at Progressive Field. He will be first eligible to enter the Hall of Fame, if elected on the first ballot, as part of the class of 2018.
The Indians will head south to Kansas City to take on the AL Central leading Royals in a three-game weekend set. The White Sox will host Detroit for four games in three days, including a doubleheader on Saturday, marking the second Saturday in a row the Tigers will play two.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images