An April schedule filled with four off days is suddenly looking like a good thing for the Cleveland Indians. Now if only they might have started the season on the road, the club may have completed its first season series of the year.
The first and the final games in the three-game set between the Boston Red Sox and the Indians were postponed by the wonderful weather that has taken residence above the northeast Ohio region. High winds, cool temperatures, rain, some of that awful white stuff, and a depressing tone of gray cloud has become the norm in the Cleveland area in a week that lacked the feelings of spring and/or summer that baseball should invoke. Boston claimed the rescheduled opener, 6-2, on Tuesday in the coldest Cleveland opener to date, while the Tribe took a windy 7-6 slugfest in a home run derby contest on Wednesday night.
Chicago started their schedule the right way, on the west coast as a guest in the happy home of the Oakland Athletics. In a tightly contested four-game series, the White Sox won 4-3 on Monday and 5-4 on Tuesday before a 2-1 loss on Wednesday night. They bounced back with a 6-1 win to conclude the series on Thursday afternoon.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES (numbers for 2015 unless noted)
Friday, 4/8, 4:10 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (14-10, 3.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs. LHP John Danks (7-15, 4.71, 1.41)
Saturday, 4/9, 2:10 PM ET – RHP Cody Anderson (7-3, 3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) vs. LHP Chris Sale (1-0, 3.86, 1.14 in 2016)
Sunday, 4/10, 2:10 PM ET – RHP Josh Tomlin (7-2, 3.02 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (0-0, 3.18, 1.24 in 2016)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); Comcast SportsNet (Chicago, Fri. and Sun.); WGN (Sat.)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WLS (Chicago)
The Indians are 31 games to the bad in the all-time history between the two clubs, owning a 1,036-1,067 record in 2,120 contests. The Sox are 563-486 against the Tribe when playing in Chicago.
Last season as the Indians could not figure out the AL Central Division, the White Sox capitalized on their woes. By winning the finale between the clubs in September, they edged out a 10-9 season series win. Home field was a disadvantage for both ball clubs, as the Indians went 3-6 at Progressive Field, while the White Sox were 4-6 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Michael Brantley (LF) – 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 25) – recovery from right shoulder surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 15-day disabled list (retroactive to March 28) – left wrist impingement; will begin rehab assignment 4/8
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (April 4) – recovery from offseason core muscle surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Todd Frazier highlights the new faces in the Sox lineup this season after he was acquired in an offseason trade from the Cincinnati Reds. He plugs the hole at third base and gives the White Sox extra power from the right side of the plate. He is the reigning Home Run Derby winner.
Austin Jackson jumps into the White Sox outfield after spending last season between the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs organizations. He made the quick 35-minute hop down the Red Line (or I-90 East/I-94 East if you prefer) in jumping back into the American League Central after previously spending time in Detroit with the Tigers.
Another former Tiger, Alex Avila, will pair with former Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro behind the plate. Jimmy Rollins made the club on a one-year minor league deal and will keep the seat warm for the club’s top prospect, who is doing some fine tuning at Triple-A Charlotte to start the year.
…AND OLD FACES
The first baseman of the White Sox is a formidable foe who has feasted on Indians pitching in his two seasons in the Majors. Jose Abreu captured the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2014 and made an All-Star team, posting a .317 average, MLB-leading .581 slugging percentage, and paired 35 doubles with 36 homers while driving in 107. He followed it up with a .290 average last season, hitting 34 doubles, 30 homers, and driving in 101. The Cuban righty has better protection in the lineup now with Frazier hitting behind him and hit his first homer and drove in his first three runs of 2016 in Thursday’s win.
The 29-year-old owns a .312 career average against the Indians with eleven homers and 25 RBI, both highs against any one team in his career. Two of those homers came off of Salazar and one off of Tomlin, but all three were solo shots.
RIGHT-HANDED POWER BATS
The lefty-heavy rotation of the White Sox, including Sale, Quintana, Dank, and Carlos Rodon, would have been enough to give the Indians’ lefty-hitting lineup some problems in the past. The additions of Mike Napoli, Marlon Byrd, and Juan Uribe give the Indians a little more oomph from the right side of the plate, giving the lineup much more balance. Rajai Davis, the team’s other big free agent addition, is also a right-handed hitter and can generate some runs at the very bottom or top of the Indians lineup by getting on base for the heart of the order.
PARTY IN THE BIG CITY
Carlos Santana will turn 30 on Friday when the Indians and White Sox start their three-game series. He has some good birthday numbers in his career, with six hits in 18 at bats (.333). Included in those numbers are three homers and six RBI, with a pair of those homers coming on his second big league birthday in 2012 and a solo shot in the second game of last season.
Tribe ace Corey Kluber will celebrate his 30th birthday on Sunday while the club is in Chicago. He was originally scheduled to start Sunday’s game, but was pushed back by the postponement on Thursday. Another year older, he will now have a week of rest when he makes his next scheduled start on April 12 in Tampa.
Right fielder Chisenhall had his season debut deleted by inclement weather in Columbus, where he was expected to start for the Triple-A Clippers in the first game of his rehab assignment. He is eligible to come off of the disabled list on Tuesday, but it is unknown if that will be the time table now, especially after the missed action Thursday.
The Indians will take Monday off before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series in Florida on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday feature 7:10 PM ET start times before a Thursday 1:10 PM ET getaway day start. The White Sox will depart after just three home games and hit the road to Minnesota where they will take on the Twins in a split series, playing the Twin Cities opener on Monday with a day off Tuesday before resuming the series on Wednesday and Thursday.
Photo: AP Photo/Ben Margot