Indians visit White Sox seeking 12th straight win
CHICAGO — The red-hot Cleveland Indians will go for their 12th win in a row Monday afternoon when they visit the Chicago White Sox to open a four-game series.
Cleveland (80-56) has outscored opponents by a whopping margin of 79-18 during its 11-game streak. The Indians are 33-16 since the All-Star break and have won 15 of their past 17 road games.
Meanwhile, Chicago (54-81) sits in last place in the American League Central. The White Sox continue to compete and have won three consecutive series at home, including a weekend matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Perhaps no player enters the series hotter than Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez, who went 5-for-5 with two home runs and three doubles Sunday. The outburst followed a recent 0-for-17 skid.
“What did I tell you,” Indians manager Terry Francona said to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I told you he’d be fine. He’s a good hitter. That’s what good hitters do. They get to their level.”
That could spell trouble for White Sox right-hander James Shields (2-5, 5.72 ERA), who is set to make his 17th start of the season. The 35-year-old has not earned a victory in 10 consecutive outings, but he showed signs of improvement in August. He is 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in his past five starts.
In 19 career starts against the Indians, Shields is 4-6 with a 3.91 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 115 innings. He has faced the Indians once this season, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings.
The Indians will counter with 26-year-old right-hander Trevor Bauer (14-8, 4.46 ERA), who is 7-0 with a 2.42 ERA in nine games (eight starts) since July 21.
In 12 career appearances (10 starts) against the White Sox, Bauer is 4-2 with a 3.82 ERA. He has not faced Chicago yet this year.
The Indians are 7-5 this season against the White Sox. They have outscored Chicago 48-39.
Heading into the series, White Sox manager Rick Renteria reinforced his confidence in Shields, who has made late-season adjustments.
“He has changed his arm angle a little bit,” Renteria said. “He has reinvented himself. He has been throwing much more effectively. …
“I think his ability to go ahead and command the zone is certainly bringing more life to the possibility of him continuing to be as good in a different way. The mentality is still there. His approach is still there. It’s a matter of how well he continues to throw from the way he’s delivering the baseball now.”
The White Sox have made no secret about their strategy to rebuild the roster and focus on youth. However, Shields figures to be the veteran leader of a rotation that includes highly touted arms such as Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and possibly Carson Fulmer.
“He’s not a guy that anybody is thinking about doing anything with,” Renteria said of Shields’ future. “He’s with us, so he’s certainly looking to be a part of that staff this coming season.”