Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

After falling in the first two games of the four-game series against the red hot Blue Jays only to cool them off and win the final two, the White Sox will hope to carry the momentum into Cleveland for another four-game set as they face the Indians.

Opponent: Cleveland Indians
Record: 20-32, .385, 11 GB (AL Central)
Place: Jacobs Field
Time & TV: Game 1: 6:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 2: 12:15 p.m. (FOX); Game 3: 12:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 4: 11:05 p.m. (FSN)
2002 Record vs Sox: 10-9
2003 Record vs Sox: 3-4

Like the White Sox, the Indians' offense isn't as prolific as it once was as indicated by their .242 team batting average and overall run total of 211, both lower than the Sox'. Offensively they are led by Ellis Burks and Matt Lawton. Lawton, after hitting .185 in April, has picked it up -- in comparison to the rest of the offense -- and is now batting .215 with 26 RBIs. The rotation is led by C.C. Sabathia (3-2, 2.73) and Ricardo Rodriguez (3-5, 4.48), and the bullpen by Danys Baez (10 SVs), whose rather high ERA of 4.68 is of a result of a five-run meltdown he had in a game against the Oakland A's. Take that away and he's only given up eight runs in 24 2/3 innings (2.92 ERA).

WHO'S HOT (Last 4 Starts)
C.C. Sabathia, SP: 3-0, 1.29 ERA, 28 IP, 21 K, .93 WHIP
--If there is one reason to be afraid of the Indians, it is because of Sabathia. After winning 17 games for the 2001 Division Champions, recieving a lot of attention, Sabathia was rarely looked at in 2002 as he threw 210 innings, winning 13 games and posting a respectable 4.37 ERA. A year later, he appears to have hit his stride. Sabathia sprained his ankle last Wednesday and will make his first start since in this series.

WHO'S NOT (Last 6 Games)
Brandon Phillips, SS: 1-22, HR, 3 RBI, 4 SO
The highly-prized Phillips has played far below expectations for the Indians, who obtained the 21-year-old shortstop last year from the New York Mets. In 48 games this season, Phillips is batting only .220 and has struck out 31 times.

Game #1:
Danny Wright (0-2, 5.56 ERA, 14 K) vs. C.C. Sabathia (3-2, 2.73 ERA, 43 K)
--This will be the first of two lefties the White Sox will face in this series. With Sabathia making his first start since injuring his ankle, the White Sox need get him off the mound and test his agility early. Wright is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA career against the Indians and is coming off a strong start against the Tigers, where he went seven innings, giving up three runs.

Game #2:
Mark Buehrle (2-8, 5.01 ERA, 30 K) vs. Jason Davis (4-4, 5.66 ERA, 31 K)
--This will be a test for Buehrle as he is facing a team and pitching in a stadium he's had on and off success at in his career. Defense is needed in this game. The Sox have a history, although short, of hitting Davis. That needs to continue.

Game #3:
Bartolo Colon (5-4, 3.81 ERA, 51 K) vs. Brian Anderson (2-5, 4.98 ERA, 18 K)
--Colon gave up five runs in his last start, but continued his streak of four straight games with at least eight innings pitched. He's thrown eight or more innings in six of his last eight starts. Anderson found himself in the bullpen his last time out, throwing two scoreless innings, but is back in the rotation. Anderson is 3-2 lifetime against the Sox with a 5.01 ERA.

Game #4:
Jon Garland (3-4, 4.88 ERA, 28 K) vs. Ricardo Rodriguez (3-5, 4.48 ERA, 30 K)
--If the numbers say anything, this should be the highest scoring game of the series. Garland is 1-7 in his career against the Indians, while Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA in his last five starts.

Don't let up. The Sox have had many moments this season where it looked as if things were finally starting to turn around, but they all ended in another disheartening series defeat. The Sox can't afford another letdown to a team under the .400 mark. They must score early and add runs late to show some type of consistency with their offense. Also, because of the abundance of rest the bullpen has received over the past five games, Jerry Manuel needs to stick with the starters and not use relievers for the sake of it.

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