The Chicago White Sox managed to emerge from the hype of interleague play with plenty of momentum on their side.
They hope to continue that when they face the Cleveland Indians - their first AL opponent in over two weeks - Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox (46-35) beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep of their crosstown rivals with their fourth straight win overall. The White Sox outscored the Cubs 21-9 in the three-game set at U.S. Cellular, one week after being swept in three games at Wrigley Field.
“I’m done with this series. I’m kind of glad it’s over,” said starter Mark Buehrle, who earned Sunday’s win. “It’s so stressful playing these guys and everything that comes with it. I can’t wait for tomorrow to come in here … kind of relax and get back to normal.”
Now, Chicago is hoping to increase its division lead against the Indians (37-45), who are tied with Kansas City for last in the Central. The White Sox have won six of their last seven against the Indians, including a three-game home sweep from May 20-22.
Cleveland is opening an eight-game road trip that includes series against division rivals Minnesota and Detroit.
“This is definitely going to be the biggest road trip of the year,” starter Aaron Laffey told the Indians’ official team Web site. “We’ve got to win, and we’ve got to win the majority of the games.”
The Indians have dropped five of seven, including Sunday’s 9-5 loss to Cincinnati. Grady Sizemore and Ben Francisco homered for Cleveland, which has two starters and three position players from last season’s division-winning team on the disabled list.
A tough road trip could mean that some players - including reigning AL Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia - could end up on the trading block.
“It is going to make it or break it for us,” manager Eric Wedge said. “This is what it’s all about. These are the teams in front of us, and it will tell us what we need to know one way or the other.”
Starter Jeremy Sowers (0-3, 5.97 ERA) takes the mound for the Indians, looking for his first win in his seventh start this season. The left-hander lasted a season-high seven innings on Wednesday but dropped his second straight start, allowing three runs in a 4-1 loss to San Francisco.
Sowers made his only previous start against the White Sox on April 5, 2007, allowing two runs in six innings without getting a decision in Cleveland’s 4-3 loss in Chicago.
The White Sox hand the ball to Gavin Floyd (8-4, 3.39), who gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander had gone 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA in his previous five starts.
“Gavin was kind of all over the place,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “It obviously wasn’t his best outing, but he tried to battle through it.”
Floyd is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two career starts against the Indians. He gave up five runs in six innings of a 6-5 win in Cleveland on May 28.