Cleveland closer Bob Wickman hopes to get a chance to bounce back from a painful ninth-inning meltdown as the Indians try to salvage the finale of their season-opening three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
“He just didn’t have it today,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said of Wickman. “The ball was up a little bit and a couple of good hitters got on them.”
Wickman allowed hits to the first four batters he faced over a span of just eight pitches, then made an error. The Indians’ most reliable reliever last year, Wickman is in his second stint as their closer. He had saved 12 in a row stretching to last season.
Chicago had 46 comeback wins last year, including four after trailing in the ninth inning.
“We’ve got a group of guys just like last year,” White Sox infielder Willie Harris said. “We’re not going to roll over.”
Konerko went 2-for-3 with an RBI double to lift Chicago to a 1-0 win over the Indians in Monday’s season opener. Konerko is one of the few White Sox swinging a hot bat. The first baseman is batting .571 (4-for-7), while the rest of the team is hitting .173 avg. (9-for-52).
“Winning a game like this where we hadn’t swung real well in two days, I think it got the guys pumped up,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I bet they can’t wait for tomorrow to start.”
The Indians hope lefty starter Cliff Lee can get them their first win.
Lee went 9-1 over his first 18 starts last year on his way to a career-high 14 wins. The 26-year-old left-hander struggled to keep it going after the All-Star break, going 5-7 with a 7.91 ERA over his final 15 starts.
The White Sox will counter Lee with enigmatic right-hander Jose Contreras.
Contreras was a disappointment for Chicago after it acquired him from the New York Yankees last July for right-hander Esteban Loaiza. The Cuban right-hander went 5-4 with a 5.30 ERA in 13 starts with the White Sox.