The opening games of this weekend's series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox were hardly showcases of pitching excellence. That trend looks very possible to continue this afternoon in a day matchup from the windy city for game 3 of this 4 game series. Cleveland and Chicago combined to allow 46 runs and 59 hits in Friday's doubleheader, which lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes, an MLB record for a two-game set that didn't feature extra innings.
Yesterday the Indians (42-38) swept the White Sox (32-45) in the scheduled twi-night doubleheader. After rallying from an early five-run deficit for a 19-10 victory in the opener, the Indians scored four runs in the ninth inning of the nightcap and won 9-8. In game 2 Nick Swisher's first home run in 24 games provided the winning margin for the Tribe who moved within two games of Detroit in the AL Central. The White Sox have lost 7 of their last 10 games and are 10.5 back in the AL Central.
Cleveland sends Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4 4.58) to the hill who despite not having recent success against Chicago overall has certainly looked like the pitcher from his successful days of past when a Colorado Rockie. He lasted 5 1/3 innings last Monday in Baltimore yielding just 2 ER on 8 hits while striking out 6. He faces a White Sox lineup who before yesterday's slugfests has simply been inefficient and missing out on numerous opportunities with runners in scoring position. Alexei Ramirez (.281 1 17) leads the team in hitting and in stolen bases with 18 out of the top spot in the lineup. Adam Dunn leads the club with 21 HR and 52 RBI, but his usual overall struggles (.200) are evidence of his 91 K's in just 260 AB's and inability to collect key hits in dire situations. Alex Rios (.272 11 36) and Alejandro De Aza (.261 10 40) have put together respectable stretches, but the supporting cast has not provided much in the way of help. Paul Konerko (.247 7 30) just had an MRI on his back and could likely be put on the DL, and the team is hitting just .245 with 75 HR while averaging only 3.8 runs per game. Couple that with an inconsistent starting staff and bullpen complete the cause of why expectations have nowhere near been met in 2013. Jimenez will look to continue to extend his overall success rate and alleviate his 8.62 ERA over his last few starts against the White Sox losing his last 3 decisions.
The pale hose counter with Dylan Axelrod (3-4 4.57) who unlike Jimenez, has struggled mightily overall in his last few starts posting an ERA of 8.59. The right-hander has yielded 28 hits over his last 15 IP including 4 ER on 10 hits in a 7-6 loss to Kansas City last week. Axelrod will have his hands full this afternoon against the Tribe who have a potent well balanced lineup that scored 28 runs in Friday's double-dip and score nearly 5 per contest along with 92 HR. Mark Reynolds (.234 15 46) who has been streaky at the plate no thanks to a Dunn-like 95 K's in 269 plate appearances, still sports power from his days from Baltimore. Jason Kipnis (.291 11 49) is starting to find his stroke once again from a recent slump, and Michael Bourn (.303) gets things started at the top of the lineup. Ryan Rayburn (.261 9 25) and Swisher (.249 8 28) were expected to produce more timely as have Drew Stubbs (.249 6 29) and Asdrubal Cabrera (.264 5 25) who just came off the DL from a quadriceps injury. Cleveland hopes to have Carlos Santana (.270 10 33) back for today after missing yesterday's twinbill.
Today's price is a little steep given the ability of the ball to carry out similar to Wrigley at US Cellular. The wind is blowing North this afternoon and while temperatures are expected to be unseasonably cool the game should hopefully be played without delays from forecasted rain. Jimenez is well overdue for a quality start against one of his nemesis and judging by the way both teams smacked the ball around yesterday we could be in for another offensive display. The chances become even more likely if Axelrod fails to right the ship. Best of luck however you play!