It’s late in June, the Cleveland Indians trail the division-leading Detroit Tigers by a slim margin, and it’s time for four games in three days. LOOK AT ALL THE HAY WE CAN MAKE! Seriously, this four-game set against the Chicago White Sox couldn’t have come at a better time – the Indians are surging behind a terrifying display from Jason Kipnis in the month of June, Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Swisher are back and mostly healthy, and a slumping Mark Reynolds is going to a place where baseballs fly like pigs in fantasy.
The White Sox – those reviled rivals from the Southside of Chicago – ever the thorn in the side of the Indians. Whether it was Ozzie Guillien laughing and giving the finger to fans in Cleveland, Paul Konerko coming up at the most inopportune of times (for the Indians I mean) or the Sox doing everything wrong but getting it right while the Indians do the opposite over the last decade, it’s been an ongoing frustration dealing with them. But it must be so.
Friday will be the 2069th game against the White Sox, so far the Indians hold a losing record with only 1003 wins. That means they earned their 1000th win against Chicago just this year. That is borderline embarrassing, and needs to change. Was the Tribe kind of terrible for about 20 years? Yes, yes they were. But that’s no excuse, it’s time to turn it around. With the way the current White Sox roster is constructed, I have no problem believing they could go to Chicago and take all four of these games. Okay, so it’s not that bad a team – after all, their second baseman Gordon Beckham seems to finally be realizing his potential, batting .309 – except he’s got a .372 BABIP, almost 100 points higher than his career average, and he’s got only seven extra-base hits, all doubles. Paul Konerko is usually good – except he isn’t this year, with a .248/.319/.373 slash line. I normally bemoan the fade of once good players, it heralds the depressing passage of time. But Konerko has given me all too much grief over the years. Adam Dunn has 20 homers already, but not much else. Shoot, this is a team that has given Jeff Keppinger 235 at-bats. Keppinger, he of the 37 OPS+. There’s a reason this team is in last place folks, and it’s not their pitching.
I’m about to give the White Sox a mid-season boost and make them a thorn in the AL Central’s side for the rest of the season, but here goes.
It looks as though Kenny Williams’ poor decision making has finally come home to roost. For years he tried to patch holes with veterans he paid too much money for while trying to eke out a couple good starts from sub-replacement level fill-ins. I liked him, still do – we’re both die-hard members of Raider Nation. But he wasn’t smart, he tried to chase the dragon as it were, and it finally came back and bit him. The team is last in the league in on-base percentage, second to last in slugging, and no higher than 13th in hits, doubles, triples and homers. The term ‘cratering’ gets thrown around a lot, particularly by astronomers, but this is a whole new world on the Southside. The Indians can and should roll in there and exit with a sweep – the Sox are giving them every chance. That’s what I expect, and though I’ll probably get a 3-1 exit, I’ll be a little disappointed if it turns out some other way. The Sox sowed their seed, it’s time for the reaper to come calling.
Dark stuff, huh. Well, it’s high time the Indians took what’s theirs, which the Sox blocked all too many times. Now with Kipnis firing on all cylinders, Lonnie Chisenhall breaking out for a 3-for-4 night in Baltimore with a LONG home run, A-Cab back and all the rest finally settling in, the misery of the last few years may be over. It’s a tough thing to proclaim in June, but I get worked up and excited very easily. So what the hell.