Indians-White Sox Preview
Their success against Chris Sale is much harder to explain.
Seeking their 12th straight win over the lowly White Sox, the Indians also hope to pin a loss on Chicago's ace for the fourth time in as many tries this season Sunday.
One reason Cleveland (80-68) is 1 1/2 games behind the wild-card tie between Texas and Tampa Bay is its 14-2 record against the White Sox (58-90).
The Indians made it 11 consecutive wins over the AL Central's worst team with an 8-1 rout Saturday. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer and Lonnie Chisenhall added a three-run shot as Cleveland extended the franchise's longest win streak in the history of the series dating to 1901.
''I saw the stats flash a couple of nights ago where they are .500 against the league and then like (14-2) against us now,'' White Sox catcher Josh Phegley said. ''We've single-handedly put them in the playoff race basically. I don't know. They've got our number and it's something. It's either a close game or a big game. But we've got one more shot at them and we are going to try to get them.''
The Indians have outscored the White Sox 83-38 during the run, batting .321 with 14 homers and 27 doubles.
Sale (11-12, 2.90 ERA) knows all too well how potent Cleveland's offense can be since he's 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA in three meetings this season. Wins have been tough to come by for Sale due largely to an offense which ranks last in the AL in runs, but his struggles against the Indians are his alone.
Sale, though, was in top from Monday against Detroit, outpitching 19-game winner Max Scherzer in a 5-1 victory to win for the fifth time in six decisions. He allowed one run and four hits in eight innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.
''We ran into a buzzsaw with Sale,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''He was absolutely terrific.''
Sale became the fastest pitcher in franchise history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, passing Javier Vazquez in 2007 (207).
Saturday's loss was the fifth in a row and 14th in 16 games for the White Sox, who have averaged 2.5 runs during that span. They need to win at least five of their final 14 contests to avoid the franchise's first 100-loss season since 1970.
Cleveland starters have surrendered three runs over 17 innings in the first three games of this series, a trend Zach McAllister (7-9, 4.11) tries to continue Sunday.
After winning three straight starts behind a 1.83 ERA, the right-hander has an 8.78 ERA in losing his past two. McAllister yielded four runs, six hits and three walks over five innings Tuesday in a 6-3 loss to Kansas City.
He is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts against the White Sox this season.