The Cleveland Indians are the hottest team in baseball and are running away with the American League Central. The Indians will try to push their season-best winning streak to 12 straight and move toward the top record in the AL when they visit the Chicago White Sox for the opener of a four-game series on Monday.
Cleveland is riding its pitching during the winning streak, with the staff allowing an average of 1.7 runs in the last 11 games, but also got a boost on the offensive side on Sunday, when All-Star Jose Ramirez busted out of a slump by going 5-for-5 with two home runs and three doubles in an 11-1 thrashing of the Detroit Tigers. “I said he’ll be fine, I told you he was a good hitter,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters of Ramirez. “And that’s what good hitters do, they get to their level. Sometimes they do it in kind of unique ways or weird ways, but he’s just a really good hitter.” Cleveland (80-56) owns a nine-game lead in the Central and is three games behind the Houston Astros for the best record in the AL while the White Sox (54-81) sit in the Central basement despite taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. Chicago will try to end the Indians’ surge with veteran James Shields while Cleveland counters with righty Trevor Bauer.
TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, STO (Cleveland), WGN (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Trevor Bauer (14-8, 4.46 ERA) vs. White Sox RH James Shields (2-5, 5.72)
Bauer has not lost since July 16 and allowed one or no runs in six of his last eight outings. The UCLA product allowed one run and four hits in six innings to earn a win at the New York Yankees on Wednesday while overcoming four walks. Bauer is seeing Chicago for the first time this season and is 4-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 12 career games - 10 starts - against the division rivals.
Shields has not won since June 29 and lost his control at Minnesota on Tuesday, when he issued five walks and was charged with four runs and five hits in five innings. The California native surrendered one home run in that outing, bringing his season total to 21 in just 85 innings. Shields enjoyed one of his better outings at Cleveland on Apr. 11, when he allowed one run - a solo homer - and two hits in 5 1/3 innings.
1. Indians SS Francisco Lindor set a club record for home runs by a SS with his 26th on Sunday.
2. Chicago DH Matt Davidson is 1-for-23 with 10 strikeouts in his last six games.
3. Cleveland CF Bradley Zimmer (head) sat out Sunday and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Indians 7, White Sox 2