Series Preview #7: Cleveland Indians (7-10) at Chicago White Sox (7-11)

The Chicago White Sox continue their ten-game home stand as they welcome the Cleveland Indians into town for a three-game series.

The Indians are on a lengthy road trip of their own, as they are in the middle series of three straight road pairings. Cleveland’s bats woke up in the middle game against the Houston Astros over the weekend, ending a five game losing skid that saw the offense score just eleven runs.

Chicago has won just three of their last ten games and is in the midst of a three game losing streak of their own. They are 4-4 at home on the season but have dropped two straight games at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cleveland snuck out of Houston with a series win over the weekend against the American League team with the worst record so far in 2013.

Houston captured the series opener, 3-2, despite a decent outing from Brett Myers. The Astros did their three runs of damage through the air, with a pair of home runs off of Myers, who increased his league-lead to ten home runs allowed on the season. Lonnie Chisenhall cut the game to 3-2 with a two-run homer in the fourth, but the Indians would get no closer. Myers worked five innings and allowed five hits against his former team, but was dealing with an injury throughout the start.

The Indians bats woke up in a big way on Saturday, as they scored in each of the first five innings and defeated the Astros, 19-6. Houston’s Philip Humber, a night short of the one year anniversary of his perfect game last season, recorded only one out and gave up eight runs on eight hits. Scott Kazmir was only able to last three and one-third innings and allowed six runs, despite being spotted a large lead. The Cleveland offense was 11-for-22 with runners in scoring position. Three different Indians hit home runs and Nick Swisher had three doubles in four hits. Corey Kluber earned the win with four scoreless innings of relief.

The Indians won a nail biter in the finale, 5-4. Ubaldo Jimenez walked the first batter of the game and gave up a home run to Fernando Martinez to put the Indians down early, 2-0. But the bats did just enough for Cleveland on the afternoon as the Indians slowly chipped away, thanks to four solo home runs. Jimenez at one point retired 14 batters in a row and left after five innings, allowing four runs on four hits with just one walk. Chris Perez earned his second save of the season after loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Mark Reynolds hit the go-ahead home run and made the game-saving play to end the day.

“Somehow, I was able to pull a Houdini and get out of that,” Perez said after his save.

With their series win over Houston, Cleveland (7-10) exits the cellar in the AL Central, moving a half-game ahead of Chicago prior to their head-to-head matchup this week.

Myers was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. The Indians announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with right elbow tendonitis and a mild UCL sprain. He will not throw for two weeks and can resume throwing when he appears symptom-free.

Right-hander Fernando Nieve, who was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to replace Myers for the game on Sunday, was designated for assignment on Monday to make room for reliever Matt Albers, who was activated from the Restricted List.

Kluber, who worked four innings in relief on Saturday night, will assume Myers’ spot in the rotation.

Asdrubal Cabrera is considered day-to-day after he slipped down the dugout steps prior to Saturday’s game and jammed his left wrist.

Center fielder Michael Bourn will miss the series as he remains on the 15-day disabled list with stitches in his lacerated right index finger.

Catcher Lou Marson is eligible to return some time this week from the DL, where he has been while recovering from a cervical strain.

Despite a slow start offensively, several Indians players have snuck onto the AL leaderboard in various categories.

Santana is fourth in the AL with his .380 batting average and his four doubles. His .466 on-base percentage is third best in the league. With a slugging percentage of .760 and OPS of 1.226, he trails only Baltimore’s Chris Davis.

Reynolds is in a three-way tie (with Davis and J.P. Arencibia) for the top spot in the AL with seven home runs. His 18 RBI are good for fourth in the league. He batted .500 in the series against Houston with two home runs and five runs batted in and is batting .368 in the last seven days.

Drew Stubbs batted .455 in the series against Houston with his first home run of the season. He is now batting .345 in his last ten games.

Michael Brantley has not fared well against Chicago’s starter Chris Sale. He is 1-for-10 in his career with a double, two runs batted in, and three strikeouts.

Jason Kipnis has been slightly more productive against Sale, with four hits (two doubles) and 2 RBI in 12 at bats. He has always handled home cooking well back in his native Chicago-area – he has a .429 career batting average at U.S. Cellular Field, his best at any park he has played in, and has hit three home runs and driven in eleven runs. He batted .457 in Chicago last season in nine games.

Chicago is hoping to end a three-game losing skid after being swept by the Minnesota Twins in a weather-shortened series this past weekend.

The series opener on Friday night was postponed due to high winds and cold temperatures in the Windy City.

Chicago and Minnesota needed ten innings to determine a winner on Saturday, as the Twins scored on an Alexei Ramirez throwing error to claim a 2-1 victory. The White Sox wasted a good outing by Jake Peavy, who allowed one earned run on six hits in seven innings. He struck out nine. Minnesota’s Vance Worley allowed only one run, a leadoff home run to Alejandro De Aza, in seven innings of work.

A four-run seventh inning by the Twins gave them a lead and they outlasted the White Sox on Sunday, 5-3. Gavin Floyd pitched six innings and gave up just one run on three hits. The Chicago bullpen allowed four runs in relief, giving Minnesota the win. Adam Dunn hit his third home run of the year in the loss.

The White Sox (7-11) have now lost three straight games. They are 4-4 at home but 3-7 on the road on the season.

Left fielder Dayan Viciedo was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 20th with a left oblique strain.

Second baseman Gordon Beckham is out after surgery on a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. The team is hoping for his return in late May. He was 6-for-19 (.316) in his seven games before the injury.

Starting pitcher John Danks is on the disabled list recovering from a 2012 surgery on his left shoulder. He threw six innings in extended Spring Training on Saturday and is eyeing an early May return.

Pitcher Leyson Septimo remains on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain.

Shortstop Angel Sanchez is eligible to come off of the disabled list later this week. He has missed time with a lower back strain.

Conor Gillaspie was a hitting machine against the Indians in their earlier series. He had five hits in his eleven at bats (.455), but was unable to cross the plate a single time.

De Aza hit a pair of home runs, his only two hits in the series, the last time he saw Cleveland. He is a .359 hitter against the Indians with a career-high four home runs against them.

Konerko slugged a decisive two-run homer in the lone win for the White Sox in their previous matchup with the Indians. He has struggled against McAllister though, with just two hits in 12 at bats. He has, however, destroyed Cleveland throughout his career; he has 47 home runs and 174 runs batted in against them. The home run tally is just one short of the most he has hit against any one team (Minnesota – 48). His RBI total against the Indians is 31 higher than the next closest team and is the most he has hit against any one opponent.

Like Konerko, Dunn has not done well against McAllister. He has seven strikeouts in ten at bats against him. His lone hit was a solo home run. He has not done well so far this season – he is batting .108 and is in a 2-for-44 slump (.045).

The Indians took two of three from the White Sox in their fourth series of this season. Chicago leads the all-time series between the two clubs, 1,047-1,002.

Justin Masterson will face off against Dylan Axelrod in Monday’s scheduled 8:10 PM ET start. Masterson (3-1, 1.67) earned his first loss of the season on Wednesday after giving up eleven hits and four earned runs to Boston in five innings. He limited Chicago to five hits in a complete game shutout his previous start. Axelrod (0-1, 4.70) will make his fourth start of the season. He has appeared in two games against Cleveland in his career and has no decisions and a 6.35 ERA in five and two-thirds innings of work.

For Wednesday’s matchup, the Indians will send Zach McAllister to the mound against the White Sox’s Jose Quintana. McAllister (1-2, 3.12) has pitched at least five innings and allowed three runs or less in his previous three starts. He is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in four career starts versus Chicago. Quintana (1-0, 2.55) was dominant in his previous outing against the Indians, limiting them to just one hit in seven innings of work. His dominance extends into last season as well – he is 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 19 1/3 innings against Cleveland in his career.

Kluber will make his first start and third appearance of the season for Cleveland in Thursday’s 2:10 PM ET start against Chicago’s Sale. Kluber (1-0, 1.80) is 1-1 in his career against Chicago. Sale (1-2, 4.50) was hit hard the last time he threw against the Indians. He allowed a career-worst eight earned runs in the loss and could not get out of the fifth inning. He is 2-1 in 15 career games against Cleveland.

All three games will be aired on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio. Chicago area broadcasts will occur on three different stations throughout the week – WCIU-TV (Monday), Comcast SportsNet (Tuesday), and WGN (Wednesday). Radio broadcasts for all three games can be heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network or the White Sox radio network.

Next up, the Indians will depart to Kansas City for a four-game wraparound series against the Royals to conclude their ten game road trip. The White Sox will welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to town for a four-game series beginning Thursday. Cleveland and Chicago will not see each other again until June 28th, again at U.S. Cellular Field.

Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

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