Westbrook looks to lead the Indians to their ninth straight win and extend the White Sox’s 11-game road losing streak when the teams conclude a three-game series Sunday.
Westbrook (5-7, 4.38 ERA) has been outstanding over his last seven starts. He is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA that ranks fourth in the majors among pitchers who have started at least six games since July 28.
That stretch includes a win over Chicago, with the right-hander giving up one run and two hits while striking out five in eight innings as Cleveland won 2-1 on Aug. 7. Westbrook is 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in three starts against the White Sox this season, and 8-8 with a 5.00 ERA in 17 starts and six relief appearances against them for his career.
In his last start, Westbrook gave up three runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings to beat Minnesota 6-5 on Tuesday night.
That win was Westbrook’s only start during Cleveland’s eight-game run. A win Sunday would match the Indians’ longest winning streak since June 10-19, 2005.
Cleveland (78-57) maintained its 5 1/2-game lead in the AL Central with a 7-0 win over Chicago on Saturday. Paul Byrd pitched a four-hitter for the Indians, who have also won seven straight at home.
The White Sox (57-79) have lost five straight, 10 of 11 and are a major league-worst 10-23 since July 28. Chicago is also a loss away from matching its longest road skid since June 10-July 6, 1962.
After ripping his players twice in Texas this past week, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen seems to be running out of ways to try and motivate them.
“I think I’ve said it all,” he said. “The only thing I can say is keep your heads up and keep competing.”
Guillen will now give the ball to Jose Contreras (7-16, 6.13 ERA), who won for the first time in 10 starts in his last outing. The right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits while striking out eight as Chicago beat Tampa Bay 5-4 on Monday.
Contreras went 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA in two starts against the Indians this season, before beating them by giving up one unearned run over two innings of relief in a 6-4, 13-inning win on Aug. 8 in his first appearance since being demoted to the bullpen. He’s 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance against them for his career.
Contreras will be facing a Cleveland lineup that is averaging 6.6 runs during the team’s winning streak.
Casey Blake and Travis Hafner drove in two runs apiece while Franklin Gutierrez and Kelly Shoppach homered to lead the Indians on Saturday. Blake was batting .169 with runners in scoring position before a three-run double in the eighth inning of Friday night’s 8-5 win, and he drove in a runner from second base twice Saturday.
“A lot of people are going to pay attention to that stat, but I try not to dwell on it,” Blake said. “If you feel good at the plate in those situations, you have a chance to have some success.”