Indians Make Final Regular Season Trip to Chicago
Bob Toth | On 12, Sep 2016
With their magic number reduced to 14 and their lead in the American League Central Division back up to seven games over the Detroit Tigers, it seems almost a certainty now that the Cleveland Indians (83-59) will be playing baseball beyond the October 2 regular season finale. Before then, however, the Indians need to take care of the final 20 games of the season – all against AL Central foes – while handling their own business.
While this week’s four-game series will mark the club’s final trip to Chicago for the regular season, it doesn’t mean that the team won’t have a return trip to the north side of the Windy City later on in October.
Standing in their way seven times over those final 20 games on the schedule are the White Sox (68-74), who will host the Indians for four this week before coming to Cleveland next weekend for a three-game series. They hosted the Kansas City Royals over the weekend, dropping two of three.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Carrasco has a pair of no-decisions against the White Sox this season in two starts at Progressive Field. He had a 3.86 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in those appearances. This will be his first start of the season in Chicago, which could be a positive for one of the game’s best pitchers on the road this year. Gonzalez will make his second start since being activated from the 15-day disabled list on September 6. He had been out for nearly a month with a right groin strain and looked strong in his first game back, throwing six and one-third shutout innings against Detroit, allowing six hits while striking out four. The 32-year-old is 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in four career games (three starts) against Cleveland.
Bauer has made just one relief appearance in Chicago this season after winning a pair of starts against them last year at U.S. Cellular Field in three appearances. He did pitch once against them in Cleveland this season, allowing a run in seven innings of work with nine strikeouts. The 27-year-old southpaw Quintana has run into trouble in September after an impressive run of eight straight quality starts when he went 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA. He has allowed eleven runs in his last two starts (11 2/3 innings) against Minnesota and Detroit. He is 0-2 in three starts against Cleveland this season with a 3.20 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
The 31-year-old Tomlin will make his second start of the season in Chicago, after holding them to two runs on five hits in eight innings earlier in the season. For his career, he is 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA against the White Sox. He last started a game for the Indians on August 30, when he worked one and two-third innings in a no-decision after losing five consecutive starts earlier in the month. The 23-year-old Rodon has made seven straight quality starts for the White Sox, posting a 5-0 record in that span. He has a spotless 3-0 career mark against the Indians in seven appearances, but has had no luck this year in two starts despite a 2.92 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 13.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Clevinger will return to U.S. Cellular for his second career start there. He allowed six runs on seven hits with three walks in five innings in a loss earlier this season. He was sharp in his last outing on Saturday, working four innings while getting stretched back out in the rotation due to the struggles of Tomlin and the injury concerns of Danny Salazar. “Big Game James” has been anything but this season and especially for the White Sox. After going 2-7 with a 4.28 ERA in eleven starts for the San Diego Padres, he was dealt to Chicago and has made 18 starts, going 3-10 with a 7.30 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP. Cleveland pummeled him for eight runs on seven hits in an inning and two-thirds in his third start for the Sox in the middle of June.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); WGN (Monday), CSN-C (Tuesday-Thursday)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WLS 890 & WRTO 1200 (Chicago)
Austin Adams (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (September 10)
Jesus Aguilar (1B) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (September 11)
Michael Brantley (LF) – 60-day disabled list (May 10) – recovery from right biceps surgery; out for season
Yan Gomes (C) – 60-day disabled list (July 17) – separated right shoulder; on rehab assignment
Ryan Merritt (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (September 11)
Matt Davidson (3B) – out for season – recovery from July 2016 right foot surgery
Austin Jackson (OF) – out for season – medial meniscus tear in left knee
Brett Lawrie (3B) – 15-day disabled list (July 22) – left hamstring strain
Jake Petricka (P) – out for season – recovery from June 2016 right hip surgery
Zach Putnam (RP) – 15-day disabled list (June 21) – ulnar neuritis in right elbow
Charlie Tilson (OF) – out for season – recovery from August 2016 left hamstring surgery
Daniel Webb (P) – out for season – recovery from June 2016 Tommy John surgery
Ryan Webb (RP) – released (September 11)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
LAST TIME OUT
The Indians and White Sox last met in the middle of August in Cleveland, when the Tribe took two of three from the Pale Hose and came one big ninth inning swing away from the three-game sweep.
They won 3-1 in the series opener on August 16 before Adam Eaton’s game-changing grand slam in the ninth inning off of Cody Allen on August 17. Cleveland bounced back with a 5-4 walk-off victory the next day as rookie Tyler Naquin delivered a mid-at bat pinch-hit sacrifice fly to win it.
The Indians are 9-3 against the White Sox this season and have outscored them 65-42.
ALWAYS WATCH OUT FOR ABREU
First baseman Jose Abreu has continued to put up strong numbers against Indians pitching. This season in 12 games, he has hit .341 with a .420 on-base percentage with five doubles, two homers, five RBI, and six runs scored.
The numbers are an improvement over already good career numbers against the Indians, whom he has hit .319 against with a .377 OBP, 13 homers, and 30 RBI.
For the year, Abreu is hitting .297 with a .349 OBP, 29 doubles, 23 homers, and 90 RBI. He is hitting .336 in the second half with 16 doubles, 12 homers, and 43 RBI.
FRAZIER FINISHING SEASON STEADY
Frazier remains near the top of the American League leader board in home runs this season with 35 in his first season outside of Cincinnati. He is second on the club with 86 runs batted in, but has hit just .213 for the season with a club-high 143 strikeouts.
In his first season in the AL, Frazier is hitting .186 against Cleveland with two doubles and two homers while driving in five.
MELK MAN DELIVERS DOUBLES
Melky Cabrera is one of the top two-baggers in the AL this season, delivering 35 doubles in 131 games this season while hitting .295.
ALMONTE A DOUBLES MACHINE
In the second half, Abraham Almonte trails the AL league leader in doubles by one with his 16 two-base hits since the All-Star break.
He has two doubles against the White Sox this season in two games, hitting .429 with three hits in seven at bats. While he will be absent from postseason play if the Indians make it to that point, he has still done plenty to help get them there, hitting .283 for the season with 18 doubles, a triple, a homer, and 21 RBI in 52 games.
LETHAL LEFT SIDE FOR THE TRIBE
Lindor is hitting .339 since the All-Star break with a .365 OBP, seven doubles, two triples, four homers, and 25 RBI while scoring 32 runs. His 74 hits since the break are two behind the second half leader, Dustin Pedroia, for the most in the AL.
Ramirez has hit .329 with a .374 OBP, 17 doubles, a triple, six homers, and 26 RBI while drawing 16 walks. Like Lindor, he has scored 32 times, tied also with Jason Kipnis for the top mark on the club in the second half. His doubles production is tied with Chicago’s Cabrera and two others for the most in the second half in the league.
With their second-to-last road trip of the season completed, the Indians will return for their final homestand, hosting the Detroit Tigers for three games starting Friday before a day off on Monday. They will then play the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox again before going to Detroit for four and KC for three to close out the regular season.
The White Sox will head to Kansas City, where they will play a four-game wraparound set this weekend with the Royals.
Photo: Jon Durr/Getty Images