Series Preview: Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox

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At this early stage in the season, I get the feeling the Cleveland Indians are doing a pretty good job. Then I look at their record, and at 7-10, I feel like I’m being deceived. They’re swinging the bat well, there’s a definite positivity flowing out of the clubhouse, and I’m still quite excited to see where this all goes. Perhaps the schedule is a bit to blame, but the New York Yankees and Red Sox aren’t the forces you usually expect and the season has already included a series against the Houston Astros.

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It’s been boom or bust all season already for the Tribe, with outputs of 13, 19, and eight among the high-scoring games and two shutouts as well as four with only one run scored. It’s irritating, but I’m expecting this to continue all season. So they head to Chicago and a home run house to face the Chicago White Sox and see if they can keep at least some of that boom going.

It’s the first visit to the Cell for the Indians this year, and hopefully the weather holds. Not only because they already have to have a double-header with the Yankees on what should have been off day in June, but a certain writer has a vested interest in Chicago having nice weather. The Sox are 7-11 on the season, though they’ve at least had some good pitching to lean on. Their offense has been rough though, with Adam Dunn hitting .108 (.154 OBP) with 26 strikeouts and only three homers. You have to wonder whether it was 2011 or 2012 that was the fluke at this point, but it’s still so early the Big Donkey could go on a tear any time now. Considering the pitching he’s going to see in this series, it could cure his ills, or else make him feel much, much worse.

Along with Dunn, the old standby Paul Konerko is having a rough go early on, though he’s begun to come around with a 12-for-36 run his last 10 games, along with two homers. At 37 you have to figure Konerko can’t be that much of a threat, but the guy seems ageless. I expect him to homer twice this series with at least a .350 batting average. That’s not a knock on the Indians pitching, not really anyway, he just seems to batter the Tribe. No, don’t check the stats, they subvert my spotty memory.

The two hottest hitters for the White Sox are Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez. Rios’ career has turned around in Chicago, and right now he leads the team in homers with five and has a .984 OPS. With Konerko and Dunn struggling early and Dayan Viciedo day to day, he has to be the power threat and it’s plain manager Robin Ventura believes in him, batting him third all year. Ramirez is having a hot run right now, but even if he were stone cold he’d have a breakout series against the Indians because he has a vendetta against me, trying to give me a heart attack every time he faces Cleveland. Either that, or induce depression.

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The offense for the Indians has been all over the map, but if there’s one thing I can almost guarantee is that Jason Kipnis is going to get it going in Chicago. His family will be on hand, and he’s got a 1.238 OPS with three homers in 11 games on the South Side. He loves, loves hitting there. He’s had a bad start to the season with a .472 OPS and a 36(!) OPS+. It’s been less than pretty with him and Lonnie Chisenhall flailing away at the plate, it’s a good thing Mark Reynolds has no regard for baseballs and Nick Swisher continues to be awesome. They really need to get Michael Bourn back to settle the defense back down, but Reynolds has been solid at first.

You know who’s pretty neat though, is Yan Gomes. He’s like the opposite of Lou Marson, in that he only hits home runs instead of never ever hitting home runs. He’s been a bit of a revelation, though not quite a lamb and lion sleeping together kind of thing. I like this power they’ve got going, third in baseball in homers and fifth in slugging. I’ll take it. I’ll have to, because they can’t pitch.

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Topics: Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale, Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber, Dylan Axelrod, Jason Kipnis, Jose Quintana, Justin Masterson, Paul Konerko, Zach McAllister

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