Indians-White Sox preview
CHICAGO -- The Cleveland Indians will try to salvage a series split when they finish a four-game set against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday afternoon.
Cleveland (84-61) cruised to a 6-1 win over the White Sox on Wednesday after dropping the first two games of the series at U.S. Cellular Field. The Indians, winners of 11 of their past 16 games, enjoy a six-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central with less than three weeks to go.
Chicago (70-75) needs a victory to secure its first series win against Cleveland since July 2015. The White Sox are 5-10 against the Indians this season.
The Indians will send rookie right-hander Mike Clevinger (2-2, 5.01 ERA) to the mound for the eighth start of his career. The Los Angeles Angels selected Clevinger in the fourth round of the 2011 draft and shipped him to Cleveland three years later for right-hander Vinnie Pestano.
In one start and one bullpen appearance against the White Sox, Clevinger is 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound hurler has posted a 6.87 ERA in 18 1/3 innings on the road this season, compared with a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings at home.
Clevinger threw 62 pitches in his most recent start Saturday at Minnesota. He allowed one run on two hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out five.
"Because he got lengthened out last time, and he's got a bullpen (session) now, I think you're going to start seeing more and more that the game will dictate where he exits," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "You're not going to see a real high (pitch-count) number, but I think the game will let us know when he's starting to tire or what the score is, and stuff like that.
"It's nice to go into his game knowing if he's throwing the ball OK, he's going to get to pitch for a while. That's good."
Right-hander James Shields (3-10, 7.30 ERA) is scheduled to make his 19th start for the White Sox and his 30th start of the season. The 34-year-old has struggled badly for most of his time in Chicago, where he arrived June 4 as part of a trade with the San Diego Padres. He is 0-5 with a 10.75 ERA in his past eight starts. He has allowed 41 earned runs in 34 1/3 innings during that span.
Overall this year, Shields is 5-17 with a 6.01 ERA.
A parade of opposing teams have roughed up Shields, and the Indians are no exception. They battered him for eight runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings in their last encounter June 18. During his career against Cleveland, Shields is 4-6 with a 4.17 ERA in 17 starts.
Unless the White Sox shut him down early, Shields will have three or four more starts to try to shift the narrative on his career trajectory. He is due to receive $21 million next season unless he opts out of his deal. The Padres reportedly will pay $10 million of Shields' salary as part of the trade terms.
Chicago hopes to have designated hitter Justin Morneau back in the lineup Thursday. The 35-year-old veteran has missed the past two games because of soreness in his neck. With 17 games remaining in the season, has yet to decide whether he will keep playing next spring for a 15th year in the big leagues.
"He's looking ... a little bit better, but it's still a little bit of a tweak where he can't play," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday.