Covering the Bases: Game 45

Final:

White Sox 9, Indians 3

FIRST: Don’t sleep on these White Sox. While everyone has billed this to be a two-horse race in the American League Central between the Indians and Tigers, the White Sox have quietly put together a solid start to the season. Do they have issues? Sure. Just like every other team in the division.

But Chicago shouldn’t be ignored in the division discussion.

“We’re not ignoring them ourselves,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We know they have a very good team. The three years that I’ve been in this division, I feel like they have the deepest pitching staff — probably the best pitching staff overall — in our division for the three years that I’ve been here.

“Pitching is a big part of the game. They do have a very good ballclub. Our division is balanced. I have never taken them for granted. They have the team to win, just like the rest of the division.”

As it happens, the White Sox are 23-12 over their last 35 games against the Tribe. Everyone says the road to the Central division goes through Detroit. Are we so sure? Cleveland sure took a thumping in the opener of this three-game set on the South Side.

SECOND: Quintana. That creep can roll, man.

(Big Lebowski reference. Couldn’t resist)

For the second time in his career, left-hander Jose Quintana pitched in the big leagues. For the second time in his career, it was against the Indians. All the southpaw has done — having never pitched above Double-A in Chicago’s system – is  post a 1.54 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.

Why has Quintana been so tough on the Tribe?

“He throws from the left side, to start off with,” Acta said. “He’s throwing strikes and he’s got a good cutter. he cuts the ball in to the rigties and away to the lefties. He’s done a good job of attacking the zone. As we all know, we have some issues against those lefties.”

With the loss, the Indians dropped to 4-9 vs. LH starters on the season.

THIRD: The Indians pride themselves on being a team that’s based around solid pitching. Cleveland has to be sound on the hill in order to make up for an offense that’s had its issues over the past few years. This year, though, there is an early problem that came up again on Friday night.

Entering the evening Cleveland had the second-most walks (171) allowed and most wild pitches (20) thrown in the American League. In the 9-3 drubbing in Chicago, the Indians’ pitching staff issued seven walks and threw three wild pitches.

“That’s one of the reasons why I continue to feel that we haven’t played our best baseball yet,” Acta said. “We’re second in walks in the league and first in wild pitches, and we’re still in first place. Sooner or later, that’s going to catch up with you. We need to get better at that.

“Seven walks. You’re going to pay for it. Not every ground ball is going to go right at people like with our sinkerballers. Tonight, it was an exampe of that. They hit some balls that you can’t defend. That was the main thing today.”

HOME: Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Carlos Santana both exited Friday’s game due to injuries, and the Indians are hoping the issues do not linger. Cabera left in the seventh with tightness in his left hamstring, and Santana left in the eighth after being struck in the facemask by a foul ball from Alex Rios.

Acta said both players will be re-evaluated prior to Suaturday’s game.

“Yeah. We can’t make a decision tonight,” Acta said. “It’s not like they couldn’t continue to play, so we have to see how they show up tomorrow.”

Acta said both were cases of the team taking a cautious approach. Cabrera has played 31 games in a row and the only backup shortstops right now are Jack Hannahan (a 3B by trade who’s missed the last 11 games due to a back issue) and Juan Diaz (called up from AA Akron prior to the game for depth). Santana complained of dizziness and it was a blowout at that point.

“Cabrera got a tight hamstring,” Acta said. “We took him out of there just for preaution. We didn’t want to make it any worse. We’ll see how he shows up tomorrow. Santana just took the ball off the mask. When we got out there, he said that he was dizzy.

“It was a one-sided game, so we took him out of there, because we all know how these concussion things are nowadays so we want to be proactive with that.”

On deck:

Indians (26-19) at White Sox (24-22)
at 4:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field

–JB

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