Series Preview: Indians (60-57) vs. White Sox (60-60)
By Matt Van Wormer
The Indians won a rain shortened series against the Minnesota Twins this past weekend and looked poised to take advantage of some great pitching by David Huff before the skies opened up and dumped over three inches of rain on Progressive Field. The Indians showed some signs of life, both on Friday and Saturday, banging out 12 and 10 hits respectively but scoring just three runs in each contest. The bullpen pitched lights out and the starters did their thing too. Now, it’s on to another Central Division foe on the South Side of Chicago. The White Sox have clawed their way back to .500 and think they have just as much right to the Central Division Crown. They will not go down without a fight.
In the first game of the series, Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.37) makes his third start of his career with the Indians, going up against Gavin Floyd (10-10, 4.53). In his last start, Jimenez threw eight innings and gave up three runs, none of which were earned. Ubaldo did get to face the White Sox once this year, in interleague play, going seven innings and giving up two runs. The Indians have not fared well against Floyd. He is 2-0 after throwing 14.2 innings and giving up just nine hits and one run. Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Indians.
Key Matchup: Shin-Soo Choo vs. Gavin Floyd – Choo is the only Indian who has had consistent success against Floyd (7 for 17, 1 2B, 1 HR). He will have to be the spark plug for the offense in this game.
Game two gives us the matchup of Fausto Carmona (5-12, 5.12) and Mark Buehrle (10-5, 3.06). Buehrle has only faced the Tribe once this year, getting a win while throwing six innings and giving up four earned runs. The life-long White Sox player is 14-15 in his career against the Indians with a 4.67 ERA. Chicago has been a thorn in Carmona’s side this year. In his two starts against the White Sox, Carmona has given up 18 earned runs in just eight innings of work. He will have to find a way to beat this team.
Key Matchup: Fausto Carmona vs. Paul Konerko – Konerko (7 for 15, 1 2B, 2 HR) has always had Carmona’s number. The Indians hurler will have to find a way to stop him.
Thursday night, the Indians’ ERA leader, Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.69) will look to continue his great season against Philip Humber (8-8, 3.67). Humber has only faced two Indians batters this year and that was back in April when he was working out of the bullpen. He gave up two hits that both came around to score for the Tribe. Masterson has pitched very well against the White Sox, giving up just three earned runs in 22 innings pitched. He hasn’t received much run support though, so he’s just 1-2 on the season against the Sox.
Key Matchup: Justin Masterson vs. Juan Pierre – While Masterson has shut down the big bat of Paul Konerko (4 for 22), the speedster, Pierre (9 for 20, 2 2B) has been able to wreak havoc on the base paths against him.
This is a statement series for the Indians. There are several games down the stretch that are “Must Win” games and these three are very close to being “Must Win.” The last thing the Indians want to do is leave Chicago, heading for Detroit, looking up at both of those teams in the Central Division. With Minnesota visiting Detroit now, Cleveland will be looking for some help from the Twins as they try to catch the Tigers heading into their weekend series.
Photo: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images