The White Sox homestand continues this weekend with four games in three days against division rival Cleveland. Terry Francona’s club comes in at 40-38, 2.5 games behind the Tigers in second place in the AL Central.
The Indians are on the second stop of a three city, eleven game road trip and split a four game set with the Orioles on their first stop. Cleveland has won three of the five meetings between the two teams this season.
The series kicks off with a true double header on Friday, starting at 4:10 local time. In game one, it will be Hector Santiago (3-5, 3.03 ERA) taking on Trevor Bauer (1-2, 2.76 ERA).
Bauer was the third overall pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA by Arizona and was sent to the Indians in a three team deal in the off-season. This will be his first start in the Majors since May 13th.
He’s pitched pretty well in his three big league starts this year, but struggled at AAA after being sent down in May. In his eight starts since being sent back down, Bauer is 2-2 with a 4.89 ERA. Opponents hit .284 against him seven home runs over that period. Bauer has never pitched against the Sox, and no one on the Sox has seen Bauer before (at least not at the Major League level).
Hector Santiago is coming off his best game as a starter against the Royals where he went eight innings, allowing just one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Santiago is now 3-3 with a 2.68 ERA as a starting pitcher this year. He has held opponents to a .199 batting average as a starter, as opposed to .254 as a reliever. Also, he’s striking out more than two batters more per ine innings as a starter.
This will be Santiago’s first game against the Tribe this year, but he is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in seven games (2 starts) against the Indians in his career. The current members of the Indians are a combined 6-for-30 (.200) with only one extra base hit against Hector.
Game two gets under way a half hour after the conclusion of game one and will matchup Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.83 ERA) and Carlos Carrasco (0-3, 7.78 ERA).
Carrasco will be making his fifth start of the year for the Indians and his fourth since being recalled in early June. His first two starts did not go well, as Carrasco gave up 13 runs in 7.2 innings. His last two starts, though, have been much better. He’s allowed four runs in 12 innings, with opponents hitting .222 against him.
Carrasco has made four starts in his career against the Sox and is 0-3 with a 6.15 ERA. Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo have all homered against Carrasco, and overall, Sox hitters are hitting .298 against him.
Quintana still hasn’t factored in a decision in a start in June. He hasn’t pitched great, but hasn’t pitched poorly either. This month, he’s posted a 3.99 ERA, and opponents are hitting .273 against him. However, they are only slugging .471 and have a .789 OPS.
Quintana has faced the Indians twice so far this year and is 1-0, allowing only two runs in 12 innings in those two starts. Lifetime against the Indians, Quintana is 2-0 in five games (three starts) with a 1.48 ERA and a 0.699 WHIP. He has held the Tribe to a .122 batting average in his career. Only Michael Brantley (3-for-7, double) has had any real success of the current Indians against Quintana.
The two teams will get right back at it Saturday afternoon, with Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.57 ERA) taking on Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.58 ERA).
Jimenez has been a disappointment since the Indians traded for him during the 2011 season. Since coming to Cleveland, Jimenez is 19-25 with a 5.14 ERA, not exactly ace material. After a rough first couple months to the season, Jimenez has been much better in June. He is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA this month. The base on balls is the biggest issue for Jimenez, who is walking 4.6 batters per nine innings.
The Sox have not faced Ubaldo yet this season, and in his career, Jimenez is 1-3 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts against the South Siders. De Aza (.385), Beckham (.385, HR), and Konerko (.308, HR) have had success against Jimenez in their careers.
While Jimenez has been pitching better of late, the same cannot be said for Dylan Axelrod. Over his last three starts, Axe has an ERA of 8.59 and opponents are hitting .400 against him. He has also allowed six home runs in those 3 starts in just 14.2 innings. Amazingly, Axelrod did not take the loss in any of those outings.
Axelrod made one start against the Indians this year back in April. He went six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. In his career against the Tribe, Axelrod is 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three games (two starts). The current members of the Indians are just 4-for-33 with one double against Axelrod.
The series wraps up Sunday afternoon with a battle of the aces as Chris Sale (5-6, 2.75 ERA) toes the slab opposite Justin Masterson (9-6, 3.76 ERA).
Masterson might be on his way to his best season in the big leagues this year. He leads the league with a couple of complete game shutouts, one of which came against the White Sox back on April 12th. Masterson also beat the Sox 10 days after that shutout with seven strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Over his career, Masterson has fared pretty well against the Sox, posting a 6-5 record with a 2.47 ERA in 21 games (17 starts). Gordon Beckham (.308) has hit Masterson pretty well in 29 career plate appearances, and Konerko, Ramirez, Rios, Dunn and Connor Gillaspie have all gone deep against Masterson.
Chris Sale can’t buy a win right now. The Sox ace has lost his last four decisions and is winless in the month of June. Sale is coming off a start where he went eight innings and allowed three runs on four hits with 13 strikeouts. He allowed two runs in the first inning, but held the Mets to just one run on two hits over the next seven innings. The Sox eventually won the game in the bottom of the ninth after an unearned run in the top of the inning cost Sale the victory.
Sale made one start against Cleveland this year, and it was the worst start of his career, allowing eight runs in just 4.1 innings. With the exception of that one start earlier this year, Sale has handled the Indians in his career. He is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 15 games (four starts). Jason Kipnis (.333) and Ryan Raburn (.300, HR) have had the most success against Sale of the Indians hitters.
Keys to the Series
Good Starts: With the double header on Friday and a quick turnaround on Saturday, it will be important to get some innings out of your starters on Friday night. While the Sox are starting two of their regular rotation pitchers, the Indians are tossing a spot starter (Bauer) and a guy who has only made four starts (Carrasco). If the Sox can get into the Indians bullpen Friday night, it could pay dividends for the rest of the series. Likewise if, Santiago and Q can’t work deep into the game, it could really put pressure on the Sox pen for Saturday with Axelrod starting.
Defense Anyone?: This is getting ridiculous with the Sox defense. It is like some sort of insane disease that has infected even the surest handed of the Sox defenders. The team has now committed 55 errors after committing a total of 70 last year. Alexei Ramirez has more errors than all of last year, and the Sox have already allowed 33 un-earned runs after allowing 31 all of last year. After seeing Beckham run over Gillaspie on a pop-up that should have ended the game and instead allows the tying run to score, I think we’ve seen it all. It’s a simple game guys: you throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball.
Fire Sale: The Sox have declared they are open for business and everyone not named Sale and Konerko are available for the right price. I wouldn’t be surprised if guys start to be traded off before the end of this homestand. The team could start to look very different soon, so it will be interesting to see how the team adjusts as pieces are moved out and new ones moved in.
The Indians are a decent team, but not a great team. The Sox played them pretty well last season, but have dropped three of five to them this year. Friday’s doubleheader will really set the tone for the series, and if the Sox can get one or two of those, then they have a good chance to win the series.
Much like the Mets series, I expect a split this weekend.