The Cleveland Guardians will try to increase their playoff chances when they open a three-game series with the host Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
The Guardians (80-67) have a four-game lead over the White Sox for first place in the American League Central with 15 games left for both teams.
Cleveland is coming off an 11-4 win against the visiting Minnesota Twins on Monday afternoon, giving the Guardians four wins in the five-game series and dealing a major blow to Minnesota’s playoff hopes by dropping the Twins seven games back of Cleveland.
“Usually good things happen when we just play hard and have fun,” Guardians outfielder Myles Straw said after the win.
The White Sox (76-71) can’t afford to fall any further behind Cleveland, either.
Chicago played Cleveland in a makeup game on Thursday and won 8-2, and then took two of three at the Detroit Tigers over the weekend.
“It’s September,” White Sox right fielder Andrew Vaughn said. “Everybody’s tired, everybody’s legs are hurting and bodies are sore, but we just have to give it our all, every day, no matter what you’ve got.”
Chicago plans to send its best pitcher to the mound for the series opener, Dylan Cease, who has had success against Cleveland in the past.
Cease (14-7, 2.16 ERA) beat the Guardians twice in July and did not allow a run in either outing. He gave up seven hits in six innings of a 6-3 win on July 24 in Chicago, and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 7-0 win on July 12 in Cleveland.
Overall, he’s 4-3 in eight career starts against the Guardians with a 4.08 ERA.
Cease has also been pitching well of late, owning a 2-1 record in three starts this month with a 1.35 ERA.
He’s coming off a loss to the Colorado Rockies in which he allowed three runs and six hits in five innings of the 3-0 defeat on Wednesday.
Aaron Civale is scheduled to start for Cleveland on Tuesday. Civale (2-6, 5.40) is also 4-3 in eight career starts against the White Sox with a 5.00 ERA.
Civale made one start against Chicago this season and lasted just one inning before exiting with a sore right wrist in the 2-1 White Sox win on July 13. He missed four weeks and is 0-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four starts since his return.
Chicago is hoping to have center fielder Luis Robert back in the lineup after he sat out the win on Sunday with a nagging hand injury.
Robert is 1-for-18 in six games this month with no extra base hits. He came into September hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs.
“I want to help the team,” Robert said. “Even though, right now, I’m probably not 100 percent, it is important for me to be there and to support the team and try to do my best in any capacity that I can.”
Cleveland will be counting on shortstop Amed Rosario to continue his hot hitting.
He went 11-for-25 in the five games against Minnesota with two home runs, 11 RBIs and three stolen bases.
–Field Level Media