Slow to create distance between themselves and the .500 mark for the first three weeks of 2021, the Chicago White Sox closed April with six wins in eight games.
“It’s a good first step for a six-month season,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa, whose club will begin May with the second game of a three-game set against the visiting Cleveland Indians on Saturday afternoon.
While the White Sox still trail the fast-starting Kansas City Royals in the American League Central standings, they feel confident about their mettle for the long haul, as the team has navigated its share of injuries to begin the season, as well.
“This is a special group,” Chicago outfielder Andrew Vaughn said. “I’ve never been around a team like this, especially at this level. It’s special. Guys top to bottom, everybody here has the same mindset. We want to win.”
One of the players the White Sox acquired to solidify a roster that snapped a 11-season playoff drought in 2020 is set to get the start.
La Russa said the White Sox will activate right-hander Lance Lynn (1-1, 0.92 ERA) from the injured list before the game. Lynn has been sidelined with a strained right trapezius since April 17.
The Indians defeated Lynn in his most recent start, on April 15, as the right-hander scattered two runs on five hits in six innings. He wound up with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Lynn hasn’t issued a walk since his season debut April 3, and he has just two walks and 27 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings over three starts.
In five career starts against Cleveland covering 32 innings, Lynn is 3-2 with a 1.41 ERA, with 12 walks and 41 strikeouts.
The Indians won Friday’s series opener 5-3 behind Jose Ramirez’s two hits, including a solo home run, and six innings of three-run, 11-strikeout ball from Shane Bieber.
Having won four of its past five, Cleveland will try to keep things going behind right-hander Triston McKenzie (0-0, 4.32 ERA). On April 12, McKenzie made his second appearance of the season — and first start — against Chicago, taking a no-decision after scattering three runs on two hits in four innings with two walks and six strikeouts.
McKenzie is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two career appearances and one start versus the White Sox, walking two and striking out nine in six innings.
In the series opener Friday, Bieber set a major league record with his 18th successive start with at least eight strikeouts, breaking a tie with Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson.
The Cleveland bullpen turned in another solid outing, retiring nine of 10 batters. Bryan Shaw began the charge, working a 1-2-3 seventh against the top of the White Sox order with Cleveland still clinging to a one-run lead.
Shaw, who has a 0.90 ERA and 11 strikeouts this season in 10 appearances covering 10 innings, credited a diligent offseason for his success.
“The work that I put in to adjust my mechanics and adjust the way I went about things to be able to do what my body is allowing me to do now and how my body works now has been huge,” Shaw said.
–Field Level Media