After 107 years and a couple of thousand games, the White Sox begin their final series against the Cleveland “Indians” with one of those seven-inning, day-night, “is this really baseball?” things. After this week, of course, the Cleveland team will become the first MLB squad sharing a name with a British newspaper (not first American major sports team, though — Phoenix Suns beat the Guardians to it. And then there’s the matter of them not even being the first team in Cleveland with the moniker, because there’s already a roller derby team or some such, and believe it or not, the roller derby team sports a better logo!).
With the magic number at two, and magic numbers hanging around for a ridiculously long time, the White Sox only need to win one of five games at Progressive Field to clinch the AAAL Central. Do not even think about last year. Ancient history. Probably just rumor, at that.
The first shot at clinching goes to Reynaldo López, who had been a pleasant surprise after being brought back from Charlotte, but who has had an unhappy reversion to form in his three September starts, giving up 13 runs (10 earned) in 13 innings. The good news is he pitched three relief innings against Cleveland on August 1, giving up just one hit and no runs, and striking out four.
Trying to stave off the meaningless for Cleveland will be Aaron Civale, who has an 11-4 record despite missing two months with an injured finger. Civale’s three starts since coming off of the IL this month have been the good, the bad and the meh. The good was the latest start, six shutout innings against the Yankees last Thursday.
Civale faced the White Sox way back in April, holding the Sox to one run over six innings. He’s about 29% each on sinkers and cutters, 21% with an excellent curve, and 9% each sliders and changeups ... and, yes, he will throw a four-seamer every 40 pitches or so.
Our HOFBP apparently thinks this magic number thing has gone on long enough, and is going with the whole A lineup in the opener.
López will be facing the usual dilemma of whether or not to pitch to José Ramírez.
First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. Central, with the usual broadcast suspects.
The wind is expected to be helping fly balls out toward right-center a lot, with autumnal temps and a chance of rain.