Series Preview #28: Cleveland Indians (40-38) at Chicago White Sox (32-43)

A lengthy rain delay in their finale with the Orioles prolonged the Cleveland Indians’ stay in Baltimore into the midnight hour, prior to departing for four games in three days in Chicago against the southside White Sox.

The Indians (40-38) have not lost a series since ending their eight-game losing skid to begin June. In their last five series, the club has won four three-game series and split on a four-game set during the week with the O’s. Capitalizing on a recent three-game losing streak by the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland has pulled within two and a half games of the lead in the American League Central.

The White Sox (32-43) enter the weekend series with Cleveland nine games behind front-running Detroit for the divisional lead and nine and a half games out of the wild card race in the AL. Reports Thursday evening indicated the club has made all players, with the exception of starting pitcher Chris Sale and first baseman Paul Konerko, available for trade and that several players have already been discussed.

Hector Santiago (3-5, 3.03 ERA) will start game one of the Friday doubleheader for Chicago. It will be the first start of the season for the left-hander against the Indians. He has split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation. Trevor Bauer (1-2, 2.76) will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus for the spot start. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM ET.

Friday evening, Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.83) and Carlos Carrasco (0-3, 7.78) will take the mound in game two of the day’s double dip. Quintana is 2-0 in five career games against the Indians with a 1.48 ERA. Carrasco will be added to the roster as the 26th man, permitted this season as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He had been optioned to Columbus on Monday.

Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.57) will take the ball for the White Sox Saturday in the 4:10 PM ET start time. He limited the Indians to one run on three hits in six innings in an April start. Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.58) will do likewise for the Indians. He has allowed two earned runs or less in five of his last six starts. He is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA on the road this season.

Sale (5-6, 2.75) and Justin Masterson (9-6, 3.76) will round out the pitching probables for the final game of the series on Sunday. Sale allowed eight runs in a loss to Cleveland in April. Masterson is 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA on the road this season in eight starts. Game time is slated for 2:10 PM ET.

Indians’ broadcasts of the series will air on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. Friday’s early game will also air locally on WKYC Channel 3. White Sox’ broadcasts will be split up. Both Friday games will be broadcast on CSN. The remaining weekend games will be on WGN. All four will air on the Chicago flagship radio station, WSCR-AM 670.

The Indians and Orioles split their weekday series this week at two games a piece.

A late rally by the Indians earned them a 5-2 win over the Orioles on Monday. A pair of singles in the top of the sixth by Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley knocked three runs in to give the Tribe the lead, and a two-run home run by Brantley in the eighth gave the Indians the insurance runs they would need. Jimenez pitched into the sixth, allowing two runs on a pair of home runs. Vinnie Pestano earned his fourth save.

Baltimore dropped five runs in the seventh inning on Masterson on the way to a 6-3 come-from-behind victory on Tuesday night. Brantley contributed another RBI with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and Jason Kipnis hit a two-run home run in the fifth. The O’s came back with a two-run home run by Chris Davis to tie the game and a three-run home run later in the inning by Alexi Casilla to give the game its final score. Masterson had allowed only three base runners prior to the onslaught.

The Indians wasted an incredible outing by Scott Kazmir, but salvaged it in the top of the ninth, stealing away a 4-3 victory from the Orioles on Wednesday. Kazmir retired the first 13 in order before walking Matt Wieters. Baltimore did not get their first hit until a Manny Machado double to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Machado scored on a sac fly by Davis. After Kazmir left with a back injury prior to the start of the eighth, Joe Smith allowed a pair of runs to give Baltimore the lead. Kipnis’s two-run home run in the fourth was Cleveland’s only runs until the top of the ninth, when a pair of fielder’s choice grounders scored the tying and go-ahead runs off of Baltimore’s closer.

Baltimore claimed the finale of the series by a 7-3 final. A five-run fifth inning off of Corey Kluber (6-5) proved to be the difference in the ball game. The Indians had a pair of solo home runs from Lonnie Chisenhall in the second and Mike Aviles in the fifth. Chisenhall added an RBI double and a single on the night. Kipnis extended his hitting and on-base streaks with a first inning single.

Amongst players with 20 or more games played in June, Kipnis is the third-leading hitter at .398 and leads baseball with a .490 on-base percentage. He has extended his hitting streak to nine straight games and 19 out of 20. He has reached base in 29 straight games. He is third in June with 33 hits, fifth with nine doubles, and eighth with both 15 walks and his seven steals. He has raised his season batting average to .288.

In his last five games, Chisenhall is 8-for-18 (.444). He has hit in five straight games after going 0-for-7 in his first two games back after his recall from Columbus. He has struck out just twice in 25 at bats since his return.

Brantley is 3-for-7 against Quintana in his career. He drove in five runs in the series against Baltimore.

Chris Perez was activated prior to the first game of the doubleheader. Rookie reliever T.J. House was optioned to Columbus to make room on the roster for Perez. House did not make an appearance in his four games with the team.

Reliever Nick Hagadone was again sent back to Columbus, this time to make room for Bauer. He had been pitching better of late. In his last ten appearances, he logged ten innings and lowered his ERA on the season by nearly two full runs. He allowed opposing batters to hit .194 in that time and had a 2.70 ERA.

The rested White Sox had a pair of off days sandwiching a two-game interleague series with the New York Mets.

Chicago defeated New York, 5-4, on Tuesday, thanks to a walk-off single from Alexei Ramirez. Addison Reed was charged with a blown save in the ninth when the White Sox infield misplayed a routine pop up with the tying run on second and two outs. Ramirez drove home the winning run with a two-out single off of veteran LaTroy Hawkins. The ninth inning blunder cost Sale his sixth victory, nearly wasting a 13-strikeout effort given by the starter in his eight innings on the night.

The Mets earned the series split with a 3-0 four-hit shutout on Wednesday. All three Met runs scored in the top of the fifth, due in part to a fielding error by Ramirez that allowed a pair to score. John Danks fell to 1-5 on the season, despite allowing one earned run (three total) and striking out seven in seven and one-third innings in the game. Shaun Marcum is now 1-9 on the season after allowing four White Sox hits over eight innings. Bobby Parnell earned his 13th save of the year.

Adam Dunn leads the White Sox with 20 home runs, marking the eleventh time in his 13-year career he has eclipsed the 20 home run plateau. He also leads the team with 89 strikeouts. His .194 batting average on the season has benefited from his .385 average over the last week.

Konerko has 31 more RBI against the Indians than the next closest opponent. His 47 career home runs against Cleveland are the second-most he has hit against any one team (Minnesota – 49). He is 2-for-12 in his career against Carrasco with six strikeouts.

Alejandro De Aza is a career .347 hitter against the Indians, with two home runs in each of the last two seasons. He is 3-for-18 (.167) in 2013 against Cleveland.

Current Indians players have a combined .121 batting average (4-for-33) against Axelrod in 39 career plate appearances and have driven in just one run.

The White Sox have produced an AL-worst .295 on-base percentage this season. They have scored and driven in the fewest number of runs in the league.

The Indians will conclude their lengthy road trip with a layover in Kansas City for a three game set with the Royals. The White Sox will host the Orioles for three to conclude their homestand.

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

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