The city of Cleveland heads into the weekend riding a high, not because of the recent play of the Indians (or anything illegal), but because of the Game 6 win by the Cavaliers over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
It was a rough week for the Indians (35-30) as they closed out a ten-game road trip and 20 games in 20 days stretch that concluded with a three-game sweep in Kansas City by the Royals that saw Cleveland’s lead in the American League Central Division dwindle away to nothing. The Indians, however, moved back into sole control of first by a half-game with the Royals loss in Detroit against the Tigers on Thursday. Now, they host the Chicago White Sox for three games this weekend and will look to expand upon their 4-2 record against the Pale Hose this season, including wins in each of their last three contests.
The White Sox (33-33) are a different looking team since hosting the Tribe for a four-game set in Chicago at the end of May. They have made moves in their rotation, altered their roster, and have tried to keep pace with the Indians, Royals, and Tigers after coughing up the lead that they once held in the Central themselves. A sweep by the White Sox against the Indians this week could put them above the Indians in the standings, but that would be no easy feat for them to pull off.
Friday, 6/17, 7:10 PM ET – LHP Jose Quintana (5-7, 2.66 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (4-2, 3.69)
Saturday, 6/18, 6:10 PM ET – RHP James Shields (0-1, 16.71) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (7-3, 2.19)
Sunday, 6/19, 1:10 PM ET – LHP Carlos Rodon (2-6, 4.28) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.40)
Quintana has excelled when pitching in Cleveland and against the Indians in general. He is 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA at Progressive Field and 5-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) overall in his career. Shields, who came over earlier in the month from San Diego, is a combined 2-8 this season with a 5.45 ERA in 13 starts. He is 4-5 in 16 career starts against the Indians with a 3.53 ERA and has not faced them since 2014. Like Quintana, Rodon has been excellent at Progressive Field, posting two wins in two starts, a 0.63 ERA, and a 0.84 WHIP. He is 3-0 lifetime in five games (four starts) against them.
Bauer is 3-1 in his career against the White Sox, but has only appeared once against them this season in a relief role. All decisions came last season. Salazar has a 14.1 strikeout per nine mark against the White Sox, the best ratio he has against any team that he has faced more than one time. Carrasco has struggled against the White Sox in his career, going 3-8 with a 5.76 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He averaged 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings against them last season, but was 1-4 with an 8.10 ERA and 1.68 WHIP.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all games); Comcast SportsNet (Friday, Saturday); WGN (Sunday)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; WLS 890 (Chicago)
Austin Jackson (CF) – 15-day disabled list (June 10) – medial meniscus tear in left knee
Justin Morneau (1B) – 15-day disabled list (June 9) – recovery from left elbow primary flexor surgery
Jake Petricka (RP) – 15-day disabled list (May 2) – right hip impingement
Daniel Webb (RP) – 60-day disabled list (April 29) – recovery from June 2016 Tommy John surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians trail the White Sox by 29 games in the all-time series between the two clubs, a rivalry now 116 years long. The Indians are 1,040-1,069 in 2,126 games, including a chunk of official game ties.
The Indians are 550-504 when hosting the White Sox in Cleveland. This will be the first series between the two clubs at Progressive Field in 2016; the teams split a weather-abbreviated three game series the first weekend of the season at U.S. Cellular before the Indians took the final three of four in a late May series in Chicago that featured a Monday doubleheader split.
The Tribe has outscored the Sox 31-21 this year.
CHANGES IN CHI-TOWN
A pair of bigger named veterans are gone from the White Sox roster from the last time these two teams met.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and starting pitcher Mat Latos were both designated for assignment this week and given their outright releases. Former Indians outfielder Jerry Sands was also designated on June 7; he was claimed by the White Sox in December after Cleveland had designated him for assignment over the winter.
The White Sox signed the veteran first baseman/DH Morneau (and placed him on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from offseason surgery) and have called up top prospect Tim Anderson to handle the shortstop duties at the Major League level. Anderson was the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft and has hit .320 with three doubles and a homer in his first week of action this season.
Third baseman Todd Frazier is tied for third in all of baseball with 19 home runs this season. He has just five more extra base hits on the season, all doubles, and is batting .205 for the year. Over his last seven games, he has hit just .077 with two RBI while striking out ten times in his last 30 plate appearances. He is hitting .286 against the Tribe this season with a double, two homers, and three RBI and has scored six runs.
ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WITH ABREU
While his numbers this season may not be living up to expectations, Jose Abreu has done well again against Tribe pitching. He is hitting .409 with a .480 on-base percentage with three doubles, a solo homer, and three runs scored.
The Indians have had some luck in bypassing teams’ best starters this season and this weekend will be more of the same. The MLB wins leader, Chris Sale, will not get to build upon his eleven wins this season as he is not scheduled to start this weekend. His next action will come on the road in Boston.
SOX STRUGGLES AGAINST CLEVELAND
As a team, the White Sox are hitting just .223 against Cleveland pitching with a .292 on-base percentage and .376 slugging mark for the season.
HAPPY B’DAY, SANDY!
Former catcher for both the Indians and White Sox and current Cleveland first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. will celebrate his 50th (!) birthday Saturday.
NAPOLI DOING DAMAGE
Against the White Sox, Mike Napoli has a double, two homers, and a team-high six runs batted in while scoring six times. He is hitting .333 (6-for-18) against Chicago pitching.
Napoli is far and away the Indians offensive weapon at Progressive Field this season, where he has clubbed a team-leading ten homers and 32 RBI this year. Carlos Santana is second in homers with half that total, while Francisco Lindor and Yan Gomes are second in RBI with nearly half at 17.
RAMIREZ SHOWED POP
In six games against Chicago this season, Jose Ramirez is hitting .273 with three extra base hits. Two of those left the yard.
Among Indians players with more than a half dozen starts at Progressive Field this season, Ramirez is the team leader in batting average and on-base percentage with a .357 average and .438 OBP. He has a team-high eleven doubles at home this year and has drawn 12 walks there while striking out just six times.
CHISENHALL LOVING CHICAGO SO FAR
Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall has started three games against the White Sox this season after missing the two teams’ series at the beginning of the year while he was on the 15-day disabled list. In those three games, he is hitting .444 with a .500 OBP, with three singles, a walk, and a triple while driving in two runs.
Cleveland will host the Tampa Bay Rays for three straight beginning Monday before returning to the road to close out the month of June. Chicago will head to New England to take on the Boston Red Sox for four straight, beginning Monday night.
Photo: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast