Indians-White Sox Preview
The Indians may have to get the best of Chris Sale on Sunday to end that drought, but that wasn't a problem in their last matchup with Chicago's ace.
Since losing a season-high eight straight, the Indians (43-38) have gone in the opposite direction by winning 13 of 18 to pull within one game of AL Central-leading Detroit. Cleveland has won the first three of this series to put itself in position for its first four-game sweep of Chicago since May 29-June 1, 1995.
Nick Swisher has delivered the big hit in the last two victories. He homered to cap a four-run ninth inning in a 9-8 win in the second game of Friday's marathon doubleheader, and singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth of Saturday's 4-3 victory.
"It's that never die attitude," Swisher said. "I just feel like we keep fighting. We keep doing our thing. This is a good squad."
Jason Kipnis continued his hot hitting with a two-run homer Saturday, making him 6 for 9 with six RBIs and six runs in this series.
Kipnis, who grew up in nearby Northbrook, Ill., is batting an AL-best .419 with 25 RBIs in June, and he's a career .424 hitter at U.S. Cellular Field.
"It's fun to hit them anywhere, but in Chicago with friends and family in the stands it makes it that much more sweet," Kipnis said.
He'll look to lead the Indians to their second win this season against Sale (5-6, 2.75 ERA) and seventh in nine meetings with the White Sox (32-46).
The left-hander is 0-4 this month despite a 3.15 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 34 1-3 innings. Sale, receiving a league-low 2.84 runs of support per outing, was in line for the win Tuesday against the Mets after striking out 13 over eight innings, but a dropped pop-up in the infield in the ninth kept him winless since May 17.
"Stuff happens," he said. "It's definitely not the first time that's happened and it's probably not the last, either. My record is irrelevant."
He was tagged for a career-high eight runs - including two homers - over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-4 loss at Cleveland on April 13. He was 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his first three starts against the Indians.
The White Sox have lost four straight and 12 of 16 to drop a season-worst 14 games under .500.
"We've lost a lot of close games," Saturday's starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod said. "I think, three runs or less, kind of games we've been in. It's been real close to being, who knows, we could be the other way around if the little breaks were going our way."
Justin Masterson (9-6, 3.63) looks to end a five-start road losing streak for the Indians. Since a 3-2 win over the White Sox on April 22, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.54 ERA in five road outings. He appeared poised to end that skid Tuesday at Baltimore, taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh before giving up five runs - including two homers - in an eventual 6-3 loss.
Masterson is 2-4 with a 5.20 ERA in his last seven starts overall after opening the year 7-2 with a 2.83 ERA in his first 10.
He's dominated the White Sox this season, winning both starts while allowing two runs and nine hits in 16 innings.
Masterson is 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA in eight starts in Chicago.