The Cleveland Indians will look to ride the momentum of an incredible and improbable win on Sunday afternoon as they host the Chicago White Sox for the first series between the two division rivals this season.
The Indians (26-25) had chances in all four games against the Houston Astros over the weekend, but continued glaring deficiencies on the team’s roster caused issues for Cleveland. Still, the team was able to win the final two games of the series to earn a split with the reigning World Champs in a series that for many innings resembled a playoff preview. With the wins, the Indians improved to 11-13 in the month, but have won no more than two games in a row. They last won three straight from April 21-23 in Baltimore against the Orioles.
The White Sox (16-34) have won just one series in the month of May, when they took three of four from the Texas Rangers during their last homestand. They opened their road trip in Detroit over the weekend, but dropped two of the three games to the Tigers. They come into their weekday set with the Tribe with an 8-16 record in the month and currently sit nine and a half games out of first place in the American League Central Division.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Covey, a former Rule 5 pick by the White Sox from the Oakland A’s last season, will make his third start of the season for Chicago. He lost his first start on April 28 on the road against the Kansas City Royals, giving up four earned runs in six innings. He was much better his second time around nearly a month later, earning his first Major League win with seven innings of one-run baseball in Baltimore against the Orioles, striking out eight. The 26-year-old faced the Indians twice in relief last year, allowing a run on one hit with three walks and two strikeouts in three innings of work.
Plutko made an incredible second impression on his Indians teammates in his first start as a member of the starting five. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs and left with just two hits allowed in six-plus innings of work while earning his second win of the season. It was his second straight quality start to open the year for the Indians, after allowing three runs in seven and one-third innings in his first Major League start on May 3. He has replaced Josh Tomlin in the rotation for the time being.
Giolito, a first rounder in 2013 by the Washington Nationals, is in his third season pitching at the Major League level. He was unable to get out of the second inning in his most recent start, allowing seven runs on six hits with three walks and a pair of home runs allowed in taking his fifth loss of the season. He was coming off of his fourth quality start of the season. It will be his first career appearance against the Indians.
The 27-year-old Clevinger has faced the White Sox four times in his career, making a pair of starts against them in 2016. He has not earned a win yet against Chicago, posting a 5.65 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 14 1/3 innings. He has lost each of his last two starts, both coming against the Houston Astros, but was 3-0 in his first eight starts prior to that with a 2.70 ERA before that.
The 24-year-old Lopez has thrown back-to-back quality starts, allowing just two runs over his last 15 innings of work in those two games. He earned his first win of the season on May 20 against Texas, working eight scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight on a season-high 107 pitches. He followed with a no-decision on Friday against Detroit, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in seven innings. He pitched well in his only career start against the Indians last season, taking a tough loss after allowing just one run on six hits in six innings.
Kluber was victimized by his bullpen on Friday in game two of the series against Houston. After firing six and one-third scoreless innings of seven-hit baseball and leaving with a 2-0 lead, the bullpen was absolutely shelled to the tune of eleven runs in the final two frames in an 11-2 win by Houston. For the 31-year-old right-hander, he turned in his eleventh quality start in as many starts this season. He has not lost to the White Sox since 2015 and has gone 5-0 in seven starts against them since. He owns a 9-4 career record in 20 games (19 starts) with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); WGN (5/28); ESPN (5/28); NCBSCH (5/29 & 5/30); MLB Network (out of market: 5/30)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); WGN 720 (Chicago)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (4/8) – right calf strain; on rehab assignment
Oliver Drake (RP) – designated for assignment (5/26)
Nick Goody (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – right elbow inflammation
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/20) – left cervical strain; on rehab assignment
Evan Marshall (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (5/26)
Ryan Merritt (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/26) – right knee inflammation
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left hamstring strain
Alexi Ogando (P) – outrighted to Triple-A Columbus (5/25)
Danny Salazar (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis; shut down
Mitch Talbot (P) – signed to minor league deal (5/25)
Ben Taylor (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (5/26)
Bradley Zimmer (CF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left rib contusion; on rehab assignment
Matt Davidson (DH) – 10-day disabled list (5/25) – back spasms
Nicky Delmonico (LF) – 10-day disabled list (5/19) – right hand fracture
Danny Farquhar (P) – 60-day disabled list (4/21) – brain hemorrhage
Avisail Garcia (OF) – 10-day disabled list (4/24) – grade 2 right hamstring strain
Leury Garcia (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/24) – left knee sprain
Miguel Gonzalez (P) – 60-day disabled list (4/19) – right rotator cuff inflammation
Ricardo Pinto (P) – designated for assignment (5/28)
Carlos Rodon (SP) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – recovery from September 2017 left shoulder surgery
Matt Skole (1B) – contract purchased from Triple-A Charlotte (5/28)
SOX STATS AND NOTES
With the loss of Davidson on Monday, the White Sox are down a big power threat in the lineup. Davidson leads the team with eleven homers and is second on the club with 28 RBI on the season.
Jose Abreu has been the team’s most consistent offensive weapon this season. He has put up a .313/.375/.549 line at the plate with nine homers and he is the team leader with 19 doubles and 30 RBI. His bat has picked up in a big way in May, as he is the team leader with a .365 average and .410 on-base percentage in his 24 games in the month. Fifteen of his 19 doubles on the year have come in the second full month of the schedule. He has performed well on the road this season, hitting .330 with nine of his doubles and 12 of his RBI in 23 games away from home.
Tim Anderson’s evolution into a stronger all-around threat has continued this season as he is the club leader with eleven steals in twelve attempts on the year. He is second on the team with ten homers, but he has just 18 RBI for the year. He has hit .242 on the year with a .308 on-base percentage. The long ball has been prevalent for him in the last week, as he has hit three homers in his last six games while hitting .300.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
Michael Brantley extended his American League high hitting streak to 16 straight games with hits in all four games of the series with the Houston Astros over the weekend. He has hit .357 over the last week with ten hits, leading the team, and is hitting .352 during his hitting streak with 25 hits (including three doubles and five homers), 16 runs scored, and 17 RBI in the 16 games. He enters the series with the White Sox with a .335 average for the season, good for third in the AL behind Mookie Betts (.359) and Andrelton Simmons (.337).
Yonder Alonso has kicked out of a little May funk in the last week, hitting .412 in his last six games with seven hits, including a double and two homers, while driving in seven.
Jason Kipnis has quietly put together some sustained success at the plate. He has reached base safely in 16 straight games, but has not put up the most impressive line at the plate in that stretch, hitting .203 with a .309 on-base percentage with 12 hits and nine walks since May 8.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The White Sox will take Thursday off after the getaway game on Wednesday before a short three-game homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers next weekend. They will then get right back out onto the road for a seven-game trip through Minnesota and Boston.
The Indians will kick off their first series in Minnesota and their second with the Twins on Thursday night, when the two clubs open a four-game series at Target Field.
Photo: Jon Durr/Getty Images