The Cleveland Indians’ offense is already in mid-season form, and they’ll look to open with three straight wins for the first time in a decade Thursday when they wrap up their three-game set against the Chicago White Sox.
After pounding out 12 hits in their 10-8 season-opening win over the White Sox on Monday, the Indians had 10 in Wednesday’s 7-2 victory over Chicago.
Grady Sizemore, who had a solo homer on Monday, was 3-for-4 with three RBIs on Wednesday, as Cleveland opened with back-to-back wins for the second straight year.
This is the first time the Indians have opened consecutive seasons with two wins since 1954-55, and they have not opened a season with three straight wins since starting 6-0 in 1998.
In addition to their powerful offense, starting pitcher Fausto Carmona yielded one run and four hits in seven innings on Wednesday. Cleveland is counting on another big season from the 24-year-old Carmona, who went 19-9 last season.
“He kept all his pitches down in the zone,” said Chicago’s Nick Swisher, who went 0-for-3 and struck out once against Carmona.
The Indians are also hoping Thursday’s scheduled starter Jake Westbrook can get back on track following a disappointing 2007 season.
After going 15-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 32 starts in 2006, Westbrook was 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 25 starts last season, and missed nearly all of May and June with a strained left abdominal muscle. He also went 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA in three postseason starts.
The right-hander has looked outstanding in spring training, however, striking out 20 and walking five in 18 shutout innings over five starts in the Grapefruit League.
Westbrook is also trying to regain his dominance against Chicago. After posting a 1.69 ERA in winning all three of his starts over the White Sox in 2006, Westbrook was 1-3 with a 5.70 ERA in five starts versus them last season. He is 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA in seven career starts against Chicago in Cleveland.
Swisher is only 1-for-19 (.053) with seven strikeouts lifetime versus Westbrook.
Jim Thome, who homered twice off Cleveland staff ace C.C. Sabathia on Monday, grounded into two of Chicago’s three double plays and flied to right Wednesday. Thome is 10-for-23 (.435) with three home runs in his career against Westbrook.
John Danks takes the ball Thursday for the White Sox looking to put a rough end of the 2007 season behind him.
After going 5-6 with a 4.62 ERA in 16 starts before the All-Star game, Danks finished his rookie season by going 1-7 with a 7.11 ERA in 10 starts after the break. He never found much success against the Indians either, going just 1-2 with a 5.49 ERA in his four starts against them.
The left-hander went 0-2 with a 4.94 ERA in six spring training starts, striking out 23 and walking 10 in 23 2-3 innings.
The White Sox are starting 0-2 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1995-96, and have not lost their first three games since 2003. Chicago has also not been swept in a three-game series by the Indians since May 30-June 2, 2003.