The Cleveland Indians had one of the American League’s top offenses last season and have wasted little time flexing their muscles so far.
The Indians look to open the season with a sweep for the first time in nine seasons when they wrap up their three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Cleveland (2-0), which had the second-best offense in the AL averaging 5.4 runs per game last year, has outscored the White Sox 20-12 in their first two meetings in 2007. The Indians won 8-7 on Wednesday after left fielder Jason Michaels made a tumbling catch on the warning track with two runners on to end the game.
“I thought it was going to be a routine pop fly. It just kept going and it had a lot of air time,” Michaels said.
The Indians have not swept a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field since May 17-19, 1999, outscoring Chicago 39-16 in those games. They have not opened a season with three straight victories since going 6-0 to start the 1998 season.
The White Sox (0-2) made things easy for Cleveland on Wednesday, as their five pitchers combined to issue 10 walks.
“If you don’t throw a strike you’re going to get killed,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen. “We’ve got a better pitching staff than what we’ve shown.”
Indians catcher Victor Martinez was 4-for-4 with a double, three singles and two walks on Tuesday. He was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs in Monday’s 12-5 season opening victory.
Sizemore, who led off with a homer on Monday, hit a two-run shot with two out in the seventh inning Wednesday. Sizemore is just hitting only .167 (5-for-30) with six strikeouts in his career against Thursday’s starter Mark Buehrle, who is looking to bounce back from his worst season in the majors.
Buehrle was 16-8 with a 3.12 ERA during Chicago’s championship run in 2005, but finished 12-13 with a career-worst 4.99 ERA last season. It was first time in his seven-year career he finished with a losing record.
The left-hander was 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA in five starts versus the Indians in 2006.
Buehrle, who had been the White Sox’s opening day starter the last five seasons, looked shaky in spring training after allowing 17 runs and 33 hits in 22 innings over five starts.
Cleveland’s Jeremy Sowers, meanwhile, looks to pick up where he left off last season. Sowers started his rookie season 1-3 with a 7.15 ERA in four starts, but finished 6-1 with a 2.33 ERA in his final 10 starts.
The left-hander went 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA on the road last season, and has never faced the White Sox.
Chicago’s Jim Thome, who played for the Indians for 12 seasons, had a two-run homer and a double on Wednesday. He is batting .215 (14-for-65) with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 19 games against his former team since being acquired by the White Sox from Philadelphia in November 2005.
Chicago, which started 1-4 last season, hasn’t been swept in a season-opening series since 2003.