CLEVELAND — Central Division rival Chicago is back in Cleveland for the first time since the Indians’ home-opening series April 1 and 3.
Considered an also-ran in a weak division, the White Sox lost eight of their first 11 games, but rebounded to go 11-6 before being swept by Boston last weekend. After Monday’s win they’re 15-18 and in fourth place, six games behind division leader Minnesota and three back of the second-place Indians (18-15).
“They’ve really held their own,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “They ran into some injuries that have kind of hurt them, and the last time through the rotation hasn’t been the best for them. But they play hard. They hustle. They always have done that with (manager) Rick Renteria there. When they get on the bases, the ball needs to end up where it’s supposed to. Because they’re going to be hustling on the bases.”
The White Sox entered Monday fourth in the American League with a .254 batting average to Cleveland’s league-low .211 average — and 24 stolen bases.
Chicago’s most high-profiled players are Jose Abreu — AL leader with 33 RBIs through Sunday — former Indians first baseman Yonder Alonso (2018) and shortstop Tim Anderson, who was named AL Player of the Month for April.
Anderson entered Monday with the fourth-highest batting average (.333) in the AL, six homers, 18 RBIs and a league-leading 11 stolen bases.
“I hope that we don’t see a ton of that bat-flipping these next four days,” Francona said, referring to Anderson’s much-publicized bat flip against the Royals on April 17 that led to a bench-clearing brawl when he was hit by pitcher Brad Keller two innings later. “Obviously the organization thought a lot of him because they gave him a multiyear deal pretty early in his career.”
Chicago signed Anderson to a six-year, $25 million contract prior to the 2017 season.
Regarding baseball’s bat-flipping controversy, Francona believes there is a middle ground.
“Everybody has their own opinion,” he said. “Sometimes when you go looking for attention, you get it. When you show genuine emotion, that’s good. When it’s contrived? When you’re trying to make somebody look bad, sometimes you accomplish that.”
Mike Clevinger took another step on his road to recovery from an upper-back strain, throwing from 120 feet at Progressive Field on Monday.
Though Clevinger is progressing quicker than thought, he still isn’t eligible to leave the injured list until June 7.
Leonys Martin missed his second straight game with a hamstring issue, but Francona said the center fielder would return to the lineup tonight.
Martin got off to a positive start offensively but has slumped since, managing only four hits in his last 40 at-bats with 16 strikeouts.
Outfielder Trayce Thompson extended his streak of extra-base hits to six games in Triple-A Columbus’ 4-3 loss at Toledo on Sunday.
The younger brother of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson was batting .233 through Sunday, with three doubles, two triples, five homers, 17 RBIs and 37 strikeouts in 25 games.
Thompson, 28, has appeared in 202 games on the major league level the past four seasons, hitting .116 with three homers, nine RBIs and 46 strikeouts over 48 games with the White Sox last year.
A sixth-inning double in Sunday’s loss to the Mariners gave third baseman Jose Ramirez his 180th extra-base hit since the start of the 2017 season — the most in the AL and second most in the majors.
Over that span, Ramirez has 100 doubles, which is second only to 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts.
- Indians pitchers entered Monday leading the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (11.1) at home.
- Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki is the 10th primary position player to pitch multiple times in one season for the Indians in club history and the first since another backup catcher, Chris Gimenez. Prior to Gimenez, the last position player to pitch multiple times was outfielder Willie Harris in 1968.