Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

(Courtesy of Ian Martin)

Usually, at least since the start of 2002, a four-game set against the Indians means very little, but with the White Sox coming off two sad performances in series' against the Devil Rays and Tigers, this is now vital to the Sox' season.

Opponent: Cleveland Indians
Record: 38-51, .427, Fourth Place, 10 GB (AL Central)
Place: U. S. Cellular Field
Time & TV: Game 1: 6:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 2: 12:05 p.m. (WGN); Game 3: 6:05 p.m. (WGN); Game 4: 12:05 p.m. (FSN)
Games two and three are part of a doubleheader
2002 Record vs Sox: 6-4
2003 Record vs Sox: 10-9

THE LATEST
The Cleveland Indians are trying to salvage a somewhat forgettable season, winning eight of their last twelve games and climbing to within 12 games of .500. Milton Bradley has been pacing the Indians with a stellar .331 average, while Matt Lawton leads the team with 15 homers and 41 RBIs. C.C. Sabathia has been Cleveland's most consistent starter with a 3.22 ERA, while their pen is led by Carl Sadler, who has a 1.86 ERA, and closer Danys Baez, who has 20 saves.

WHO'S HOT (Last 7 days)
Casey Blake, 3B: .375, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 1.125 OPS
--Blake has been going bonkers at the plate as of late. He slugged two homers and seven RBIs against the Twins on July 5 and has consistently brought up his average.

WHO'S NOT (Last 7 days)
Zach Sorensen, 2B: . 000, 2 K, 0 R
--Sorensen hasn't played much this week, and rightfully so as he has been on base exactly once and has brought his average down below the mendoza line at .182.

PITCHING PROBABLES
Game #1:
Danny Wright (0-3, 5.33, 32 K) vs. Brian Anderson (6-6, 4.15, 36 K)
--Anderson has won his last three decisions, but has given up numerous control in doing so. He is more prone to the longball as of late, yet he induces lots of groundballs. Anderson has walked a batter or more in seven straight starts, so smart baserunning against him could be key.

Game #2:
Mark Buehrle (7-10, 4.34, 64 K) vs. Jason Stanford (0-0, 3.60, 1 K)
--This will only be Stanford's second start of the season. He was somewhat wild in his first start, walking four, but only allowed two runs, earning a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins.

Game #3:
TBA vs. Jake Westbrook (3-4, 4.55, 24 K)
--Westbrook will be recalled to make a spot start, then is expected to be optioned back to triple-A after the game. He has almost as many walks (22) as strikeouts (24), and has worked out of the bullpen for most of the year. Westbrook throws a fastball, sinker, changeup and slider.

Game #4:
Jon Garland (6-7, 4.50, 57 K) vs. Billy Traber (4-5, 4.23, 54 K)
--How the Sox perform in this game depends on which Billy Traber comes to the mound. It will either be the one that threw a one-hit complete game shutout against the New York Yankees, or the one that gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against Kansas City. This will only be his ninth start.

KEY TO THE SERIES Find the bats. Good pitching performances mean absolutely nothing if there is no run support for it. The Sox need to go out there and score early and often if they want to get back in the AL Central race.

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