(AP) — In the opening series of the 2011 season, things went about as expected, with the Chicago White Sox taking two of three games from the Cleveland Indians. Since that point, the seasons for the two teams have been surprising.
The AL Central-leading Indians will try to win their fourth in a row Wednesday night by taking advantage of the White Sox’s struggles at home.
Chicago outscored Cleveland 23-13 over the first two games this season and were denied a sweep with a 7-1 loss April 3. That win started the Indians on an eight-game streak and they haven’t stopped piling up victories since.
Cleveland’s 26-13 start is its best since opening 28-12 in 2001, and the Indians have scored 31 runs over their three consecutive wins. Much of that output came during Monday’s 19-1 drubbing of Kansas City, and a 7-3 victory Tuesday completed a sweep of the two-game set.
The White Sox, meanwhile, have just started to emerge from their struggles since the series with Cleveland. They dropped 22 of 31 after their 2-0 start, but enter this matchup having won seven of 11.
A 4-3 win over Texas on Tuesday, however, was only the team’s second in 12 home contests. Brent Morel helped his team erase a three-run deficit with his first homer of the season, and Gordon Beckham scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning.
“We feel like we’re starting to turn it around a little bit after the road trip,” pitcher John Danks told the team’s website. “For us to win the way we did tonight, that’s big.”
The White Sox (18-25) might have a difficult time building on that victory as they’ll next face Justin Masterson (5-1, 2.73 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last three starts against his division rivals. He earned the victory in the April 3 win by allowing one run and scattering seven hits over seven innings.
He’s also 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in three lifetime starts at U.S. Cellular Field but is coming off his worst start of the season. After beginning the season 5-0 with a 2.11 ERA, the right-hander gave up five runs over 5 2-3 innings while suffering his first loss, 7-4 to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
“We know he’s not going to spend the whole season being perfect,” manager Manny Acta said. “He had an off-day today, but he’s come a long way. He kept us in the game for the most part. It’s better than the times last year he didn’t do that.”
The White Sox will counter with right-hander Jake Peavy (0-0, 6.00), who will make his second start since returning from surgery on his pitching shoulder. The veteran gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings Wednesday during a 6-4 win in Los Angeles.
“I thought I had pretty good stuff tonight, and plenty of stuff to compete at this level and expect to win,” Peavy said. “I just didn’t catch any breaks, but I’m as excited as I can be to go out there and compete with the boys.”
Peavy enters this start attempting to snap a three-game skid to Cleveland. He’s 1-3 with a 5.00 ERA in six lifetime matchups.
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