In winning eight of their past 10 games and rising to second place in the American League Central, the Chicago White Sox have showcased a strong, deep offense.
Chicago enters Friday night’s home game with the Cleveland Indians ranked first in MLB in batting average (.267), first in on-base percentage (.347) and fourth in runs scored (124), but its offense will get a stern test.
That’s because Cleveland will send Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber (2-2, 2.48), who’s looking to end April with the same bang he displayed throughout the season’s first month.
Bieber’s 2-1 loss Saturday night to the New York Yankees had nothing to do with his performance, even though his nine strikeouts over seven innings were a season low. Bieber permitted four hits, three walks and two runs to a slumping but power-laden Yankees attack.
“You want to go out there and showcase yourself, showcase your strengths, showcase your stuff and you want to win. That’s what I was trying to focus on,” he said. “Obviously, it didn’t end up that way.”
Bieber’s first start of the season against the White Sox had a far more positive ending. On April 13, Bieber blanked them on three hits, striking out 11 and walking only one in a 2-0 win. That continued his pattern of success against them. In nine career starts, Bieber is 3-2 with a 2.48 earned run average, fanning 74 batters in 58 innings and permitting just 45 hits.
The Indians could use another dominant performance from Bieber after absorbing a 10-2 loss Wednesday. Their offense, which ranks 28th in batting average (.209) and on-base percentage (.284) while rating 27th in runs (90), is the main reason they’re 11-12.
And the presence of Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 4.32), a former Cy Young Award winner himself, on the mound for Chicago might not be the elixir they need. Keuchel is 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 career games, nine of them starts, against Cleveland. He worked five innings against the Indians April 12 in a no-decision, giving up three hits and three runs in five innings of the White Sox’s 4-3 win.
Chicago enters this series fresh off a Thursday doubleheader sweep of the reeling Detroit Tigers. After taking the opener 3-1 behind a 12-strikeout outing from Carlos Rodon, the White Sox cruised to an 11-0 victory in the nightcap as Dylan Cease fanned nine in a three-hit shutout.
Chicago collected 15 hits in the nightcap off six Detroit pitchers. Rookie Andrew Vaughn continued to impress manager Tony La Russa by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs, upping his average to .273.
“He’s showing his teammates, coaching staff that he’s a contributor,” La Russa said. “He’s really a very heady, stable kind of guy. Early on when he was like 0-for-10 he was just pressing for a hit. Can’t force hits. Makes it a very deep lineup, doesn’t it?”
It appears that Chicago’s starting rotation is about to get deeper. Veteran Lance Lynn, who struck out 27 and walked just two in his first three starts before going on the injured list with a strained right trapezius, will be activated to start Saturday’s game.
–Field Level Media