Indians may need more offense as White Sox bats start strong

Apr 4, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Carlos Santana (41) doubles in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.

David Richard/David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It typically doesn’t require big numbers for the Chicago White Sox’s bats to help Chris Sale to a victory, but the Cleveland Indians complicated the formula last season.

The Chicago ace will attempt to overcome losses in four straight starts against the Indians while continuing his dominant start to 2014 Friday in the second of a four-game home set.

Sale (2-0, 1.76 ERA) went 0-4 with an 8.61 ERA as the Indians tagged him for a .340 batting average in 2013, but if his new first baseman keeps hitting as he has, the left-hander might be able to turn those numbers into a win.

The White Sox (5-5) got halfway to their 2013 win total against the Indians with Thursday’s 7-3 victory. They went just 2-17 in last season’s series, but Jose Abreu made an immediate impact on his new AL Central foes with a pair of home runs.

"Me and (Chris Sale) were talking. We want to go thank (general manager) Rick (Hahn) right now for signing him," starter John Danks told the team’s official website. "He’s fun to watch, and it’s scary but he’s only going to get better."

The rookie is 6 for 13 with four home runs and eight RBIs in his last three games.

"He’s really good," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "That’s a simple fact, that he’s a good hitter. He hits things hard, and when he hits it hard, they go a long way, whether it’s left field or right field. He’s doing it for us."

Fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez also went deep to extend his hitting streak to 11 games dating to last season. The Chicago shortstop is batting .421 with nine RBIs in 10 games after it took him 43 games to reach that total in 2013.

The White Sox ranked last in the AL last season with 598 runs but are averaging 6.1 per game so far in 2014 with a .287 team average.

"Even when we get down there’s a feeling that you’re going to scratch away and get some opportunities and come through, and they execute," Ventura said. "They just have that feeling like they’re going to fight back and scratch something out."

They’ll put that mentality on the line against Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 6.35 ERA), who labored through his only start of the season, allowing five runs on seven hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-3 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

He’s been right in line with those numbers in five career starts against Chicago with a 0-3 record and 6.75 ERA.

With a .237 average, the Indians (5-5) haven’t put up the offense to support that kind of pitching, though they got a 2-for-4 night out of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on Thursday. The Cleveland veteran homered and is 4 for 8 in two games after starting 3 for 27. He had been 0 for 9 batting leadoff before Thursday.

"I think hitting leadoff can sometimes be good for him, but when he’s not hitting it’s a little glaring when you’re in the leadoff," Cleveland manager Terry Francona told the team’s official website. "So you try to balance it."

The Indians could use third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall’s bat back in the lineup. He’s missed the last three games after starting the season with a five-game hitting streak and was placed on paternity leave Thursday. Chisenhall will remain out of the lineup through Saturday.

Nick Swisher went 4 for 8 with two home runs last season against Sale while Carlos Santana is 9 for 21 lifetime.

Alejandro De Aza is 4 for 7 with three RBIs versus Carrasco.