Key AL Central Series This Week as Cleveland Visits Sox in Chicago Again
Bob Toth | On 23, May 2016
Before freaking out too much about the series loss over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox, it is important to remember that the Cleveland Indians’ most recent opponent is playing some of the best baseball in the Major Leagues right now.
Still, the Indians (22-19) cooled off some after ripping through the Cincinnati Reds last week to start what would be a five-game winning streak that carried into the first game of their series with the Red Sox on Friday. The bats were quieted some in a 9-1 lopsided mess on Saturday and a more respectable, but still disappointing, 5-2 loss on Sunday afternoon from Beantown.
They will visit U.S. Cellular Field this week as they play four games in three days against the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox (26-18) still come in leading the Central, but lost some ground to the Indians during their hot streak against the Reds. They are just 2-4 on their current homestand and have mustered just 15 runs combined in the six games and just ten in the last five. Houston took two of three in the middle of the week from the White Sox before the Royals took 4-1 and 2-1 decisions on Friday and Saturday. The White Sox avoided a sweep with a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
Monday, 5/23, 5:10 PM ET – RHP Mike Clevinger (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Mat Latos (5-1, 4.00)
Monday, 5/23, TBD – RHP Cody Anderson (0-3, 7.99) vs. RHP Erik Johnson (0-1, 7.20)
Tuesday, 5/24, 8:10 PM ET – RHP Josh Tomlin (6-0, 3.56) vs. LHP Chris Sale (9-0, 1.58)
Wednesday, 5/25, 2:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (3-5, 4.10) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (5-3, 1.98)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); CSN (Monday games); CSN+ (Tuesday); WGN (Wednesday)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WLS 890 (Chicago), WRTO 1200 (Chicago)
Austin Adams (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (May 22)
Cody Anderson (SP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (May 23)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation
Carlos Carrasco (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 24) – moderate left hamstring strain
Kyle Crockett (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (May 22)
Roberto Perez (C) – 60-day disabled list (May 1) – fractured right thumb
Jake Petricka (P) – 15-day disabled list (May 2) – right hip impingement
Kevan Smith (C) – 15-day disabled list (April 24) – sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Daniel Webb (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 29) – right elbow flexor inflammation
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians have a losing record to their second-most frequently played rival in their 116-year history. The White Sox hold a 1,068-1,037 edge in 2,122 contests. The Indians are 487-564 when playing in Chicago.
Cleveland and Chicago split their very frigid series off the shores of Lake Michigan in early April, with Danny Salazar earning a win in a 7-1 victory to spoil the Sox’s home opener before Sale got the W in a 7-3 Chicago victory the next day. Mother Nature won the Sunday contest, which was the postponement leading to the need for Monday’s doubleheader.
The White Sox have struggled to get going at the plate, scoring a total of five runs combined in their three-game series over the weekend with the Royals. In defense of their two losses in the set, the pitching staff only allowed eight runs combined to the reigning AL pennant winners.
NO PRICE, BUT TRIBE TO SEE SALE
The Indians dodged a bullet over the weekend when they did not have to face former Cy Young Award winner David Price, who has owned Cleveland hitters throughout his career, but the Tribe will have to face a potential Cy candidate this week in Sale.
The lanky lefty is a perfect 9-0 this season and is the early front-runner for the award on the AL side of the coin. While 2016 has been kind to him, the Indians have not been in his career. Cleveland is just one of three teams that Sale does not have a .500 record or better against. In 26 games (15 starts), Sale is 5-6 against the Tribe with a 3.69 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. While simply for trivia sake, he does have a career-high three saves via the Indians from his relief days earlier in his career.
FRAZIER FOUND THE LONG BALL AGAIN
After a slight home run drought for the reigning derby winner, Todd Frazier hit a solo homer in Chicago 3-2 win on Sunday. He had not hit one in eight days, the conclusion of a home run barrage when he hit five in an eight-game span.
He is hitting .228 in his first season with the White Sox with 13 homers and 33 RBI.
ABREU AIMS FOR INDIANS
While the Sox have been winning, they have not had the usual contributions from third-year man Jose Abreu. The slugging right-handed hitter is hitting .243 for the season with six homers, six doubles, and 27 RBI. He supplied three doubles and three homers in April with 13 RBI, and the other three doubles and homers and 14 RBI in May.
Abreu is a lifetime .315 hitter against Cleveland with seven doubles, 12 homers, and 26 RBI in 37 games with 45 hits and 45 strikeouts. This season, he is 2-for-5 with a single and solo homer to his credit.
NO ACTION JACKSON
There seemed to be some dissension in the Indians fan base about the merits of signing Austin Jackson when he remained on the free agent market deep into the offseason. The veteran outfielder eventually opted to remain in the Windy City with the Southside Sox, but the results have not quite been what those fans clamoring for his services expected.
In 44 games this season, Jackson is hitting .222 with ten doubles, a triple, and 14 RBI. He has one stolen base in two attempts.
NO LUCK FOR NAPOLI
After starting his series against the Reds with a 4-for-7 line in the home portion of the series, first baseman Mike Napoli has fallen into another ugly slump at the plate. Including the first game of the Reds series in Cincinnati and each of his three starts at his old home, Fenway Park, Napoli has gone 0-for-19 with eleven strikeouts. Included in that stretch was a string of eight straight strikeouts extending over three games that came to an end with a line out in his final at bat on Sunday.
LUCK FOR LINDOR
Shortstop Francisco Lindor hit .438 over the course of the week with 14 hits. His streak of five straight multi-hit games came to a close with a hitless effort on Saturday, but he was 1-for-4 in the series finale with the Red Sox on Sunday.
Lindor is hitting .357 with a .407 on-base percentage for the month of May and .325 with a .383 OBP for the season in his sophomore campaign.
RAJAI’S RED HOT WEEK
While he cooled off some in the final days of the week, Rajai Davis was on a tear at the plate while the Indians were playing their interleague series against the Reds. He finished the week with a .385 batting average over seven games, getting ten hits (three doubles and two home runs), driving in nine, and scoring ten times.
His modest five-game hitting streak ended on Saturday, when he finished the rest of the weekend 0-for-6 with a run scored.
KIPNIS IN CHICAGO
Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis owns a career .324 average and .395 on-base percentage when playing at U.S. Cellular Field. The Illinois native has hit five homers and driven in 26 runs in 39 games on the south side. His homer production is second to Fenway Park for road home runs, while the RBI total is tops among all non-Progressive Field stadiums that he has played in.
In two games earlier this season, Kipnis was 3-for-8 with three singles, a run scored, and one run driven in.
After the completion of their four-game, three-day battle in the Windy City, the Indians will take Thursday off before wrapping up their month at home on the team’s longest homestand so far this season. They will play three with Baltimore, three against Texas, and four the following weekend against the Royals. The White Sox, with their ten-game homestand completed, will hit the road for four in Kansas City.
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images