Tribe Hosts White Sox in First of Two Series at Progressive Field
Bob Toth | On 27, Jul 2020
Baseball in Cleveland returned without a glitch over the weekend, as the Indians successfully hosted the Kansas City Royals and took two of three from the visiting club to continue a strong reign of dominance over their rebuilding divisional rival in contests from Progressive Field.
The task will be more difficult for the Tribe this week, as the rebuilt and more balanced Chicago White Sox will come to town for three evening affairs to close out the Indians’ season-opening six-game homestand.
Cleveland had a pair of close outcomes in the first two games of the season. The pitching staff combined on a four-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory in the Home Opener on Friday night, but dropped a tough 3-2 decision in ten innings on Saturday in their first decision decided with the new extra inning rules in effect. In the rubber match on Sunday, they touched home early and often to back Carlos Carrasco in his first start in nearly 14 months, winning a 9-2 final.
The White Sox (1-2) had the daunting task of taking on the American League Central champions, the Minnesota Twins, in three games from Guaranteed Rate Field on the southside of Chicago. Lucas Giolito was hit hard in a 10-5 loss on Friday night, but the Sox got win number one of the season out of the way in beating up the Twins bullpen in a 10-3 win on Saturday. Reynaldo Lopez suffered a fate similar to Giolito on Sunday as the Twins slugged the Sox, 14-2.
Cease will make his first start of the season in his second in the Majors with the White Sox. The 6’2” right-hander out of Georgia worked in 14 games in 2019, posting a 4-7 record with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. His numbers against Cleveland last year, however, were more encouraging as he struck out eleven in six and two-thirds innings at Progressive Field, allowing four runs on four hits with two walks in the no-decision.
Civale will have a lot of eyes on him as he looks to build upon a surprising and impressive showing a season ago in limited work over the course of the season. The team’s third rounder in 2016 and now 25-year-old right-hander dominated at home in 2019, posting a 2-1 record in his four starts at Progressive Field with a 1.09 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. One of those starts came against the White Sox, who got to him for four runs in his final start of the season in Chicago, after he limited them to one earned run over five innings at the beginning of that month.
Rodon was once thought to be the potential ace of the White Sox pitching staff, but injuries have kept him from developing into the pitcher he was believed to be. He missed much of 2018 with a left shoulder injury and left elbow inflammation a season ago limited him to just seven starts and just 34 2/3 innings worked. His best outing last year came against the Indians, when he allowed an unearned run on two hits with nine strikeouts in six innings of work for his first win of the season. This will be his first start in nearly 15 months.
Plesac moved swiftly through the Tribe’s farm system, like Civale, and got his chance to claim a rotation spot in the spring and again in Summer Camp, ultimately winning his battle with Adam Plutko. He showed a lot of raw potential and will get another chance to show that he is ready to stay in the big leagues. His second Major League start last year came against the White Sox, when he struck out seven and allowed just a run on four hits in seven innings in a tough defeat. The White Sox got to him for six runs in five innings later in the season in one of the worst outings of his debut season.
Wednesday, July 29, 6:10 PM ET
Lucas Giolito (0-1, 17.18 ERA) vs. RHP Shane Bieber (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Giolito was hurt by the long ball in a short showing to open his 2020. He lasted just three and two-thirds innings against the Twins, allowing seven runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Two of those six hits left the yard. He blanked the Indians last season in two starts, allowing just eight hits and three walks in 14 2/3 innings while striking out 17 in a pair of wins to move to 2-2 in four career starts against them.
Bieber made it easy to forget that his first start was not in fact a midseason performance. In his 2020 debut, he struck out an Indians’ Opening Day record 14 batters over six scoreless innings, giving up just one walk and four hits in Cleveland’s 2-0 victory. He is 2-2 in six career starts against the White Sox with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP, including four outings last season.
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HEAD TO HEAD
The White Sox proved to be a thorn in the side of the Tribe a year ago. They were the only one of four American League Central clubs to post a winning record against Cleveland in 2019.
Chicago went 11-8 against Cleveland, scoring 88 runs while allowing 79. The two clubs split three early season series before the White Sox took three of four at Guaranteed Rate Field at the end of May and early June. With the young and unproven Sox standing in their way seven times in September, the Indians could not capitalize on their inexperience while fighting down to the wire for a playoff spot. The two teams split a four-game set at Progressive Field early in the month, and then in the final week of the season, Cleveland dropped two of three in Chicago to effectively end its season.
The White Sox will play seven times at Progressive Field this year. After this week’s series, the two clubs will meet in Chicago at Guaranteed Rate Field from August 7-9. The Indians will host the White Sox a second time during the final week of the regular season from September 21-24.
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Delino DeShields (OF) – 10-day injured list (7/12); recovery from coronavirus
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day injured list (7/21); right big toe fracture
Hunter Wood (RP) – outrighted to Alternate Training Site (7/25)
Cheslor Cuthbert (UTL) – designated for assignment (7/27)
Ryan Goins (IF) – contract selected from White Sox Alternate Training Site (7/27)
Ian Hamilton (P) – recalled from White Sox Alternate Training Site (7/27)
Michael Kopech (SP) – restricted list (7/10) – COVID opt-out
Reyaldo Lopez (SP) – 10-day injured list (7/27) – right shoulder soreness
Nomar Mazara (RF) – 10-day injured list (7/27)
Jose Ruiz (P) – 10-day injured list (7/10)
Rick Renteria has some new faces in town with the White Sox this season and the veteran additions could do wonders to build around some of the young talent that the team has been gradually stockpiling, but he won’t get to coach them in the dugout on Monday night. After waking up with some cold symptoms, he will be left behind in his Cleveland hotel room while awaiting COVID-19 testing results. Coach Joe McEwing will handle the managerial duties, if the game is played with rains hitting the Cleveland area hard early in the afternoon.
Keuchel earned the White Sox’s first win of the season in his first start with the club. The team hopes that he will bring some playoff experience and some of the former success that he had on the mound as a Cy Young winner in the past.
Encarnacion has had a tough start in his new digs. In the opening weekend matchup against the Twins, he went 1-for-12 (.083), homering and driving in two runs with his only hit of the season. He has struck out six times in those 12 trips and has yet to draw a walk. He spent last season split between Seattle and New York with the Yankees after spending 2017 and 2018 in the Indians lineup. He was dealt by Cleveland to Seattle last offseason in the three-team trade that brought Carlos Santana back to his former home with the Indians.
Rookie Luis Robert is a player to watch for the Sox. The Cuban signee is days away from his 23rd birthday and made his big league debut on Friday. The center fielder was 4-for-11 in the first weekend of baseball, scoring two runs and hitting his first Major League home run.
Yoan Moncada, another young Cuban on the Chicago roster, is off to a hot start so far, with three of his four hits on the year falling in for extra bases. He hit .315 a season ago, despite striking out 154 times in 132 games, and posted career bests across the stat sheet, including 34 doubles, 25 homers, and 79 RBI. Serving as the team’s primary third baseman now after coming up as a second sacker, the switch-hitting threat owns a career .285/.358/.487 slash in 43 games against the Indians with 14 doubles, six homers, and 19 RBI. Last year, he hit .344 against them in 17 games with seven doubles, four homers, and 12 RBI.
Jose Abreu re-signed with the club in the offseason on a three-year, $50 million deal. He went 3-for-13 in the opening series against Minnesota, hitting three singles and driving in a run. In 104 career games against the Indians, he has posted a .257/.304/.480 line with 23 doubles, 21 homers, and 62 RBI. He hit .227 last season against them, marking a third straight season of difficulties with the tough Tribe pitching.
PACK YOUR BAGS
The Indians will pack up and head out of town for their first road trip of the season following Wednesday night’s getaway day start. With 17 games in 17 days to open the season, they will take their show on the road for a tough four-game series against the Minnesota Twins from Target Field.
Chicago will take the day off to travel on Thursday before opening a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images