If the Chicago White Sox succeed in coming from behind to win the AL Central, it may be thanks to a couple of castoffs from the NL West.
Manny Ramirez(notes) could make his White Sox debut Tuesday night in the city where he began his major league career, as Chicago sends surging Edwin Jackson(notes) to the mound to face the Cleveland Indians.
Seeking another big bat in their lineup as they try to make up a four-game deficit on division-leading Minnesota, the White Sox (71-60) acquired Ramirez off waivers Monday from the Dodgers. Ramirez batted .311 with eight homers and 40 RBIs this season for Los Angeles, where he was limited to 66 games by calf and hamstring injuries.
Manager Ozzie Guillen plans to bat the 38-year-old fifth and use him primarily at designated hitter. While Ramirez may no longer be capable of the consistent production that made him a 12-time All-Star with five 40-homer seasons, he could still add plenty of pop to the White Sox.
Personality concerns are always an issue with the enigmatic Ramirez, but Guillen claimed Monday the slugger is simply misunderstood.
“People have the wrong idea about Manny,” he said. “I don’t think Manny is a bad guy or a pain in the butt. It’s funny how people say Manny is being Manny. Manny is being real. I never see anyone on his team get mad at him because he goes about his business.”
Ramirez’s first series with the White Sox will come on the road against two of his former clubs. He spent his first eight seasons in Cleveland, and will travel this weekend to Boston, where he helped the Red Sox win two World Series before being dealt to Los Angeles in 2008.
Jackson (2-0, 0.96 ERA) may provide Ramirez the perfect blueprint for success. The right-hander - a major disappointment during his first season in Arizona, where he went 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA before being dealt to Chicago on July 30 - has been phenomenal since joining the White Sox, striking out 34 in 28 innings and not allowing more than one earned run in any of his four starts.
“It’s hard when you come from a different team and get put in a pennant race,” Guillen said after Jackson struck out 10 and allowed three hits over eight innings of Thursday’s 8-0 victory over Baltimore. “A lot of people, the expectation is very high. And sometimes you don’t know how to handle it. I think he has handled it well. He came to a city that is desperate to win and in that situation we brought him here and he has handled it very positive and very good.”
Jackson will seek to continue his dominance of the Indians. He’s 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 10 appearances - nine starts - versus Cleveland, and 2-0 with a 1.01 ERA at Progressive Field.
Chicago opened this series and its 10-game road trip Monday by squandering a five-run lead, then recovering to win 10-6 in 11 innings. Brent Lillibridge(notes), inserted at second base when Gordon Beckham(notes) left after being hit on the right hand with a pitch, made a costly throwing error in the Indians’ three-run ninth, but put the White Sox ahead to stay two innings later with a two-out homer.
Beckham’s X-rays were negative, but his status is uncertain.
The Indians (53-78) will give the ball to Justin Masterson(notes) (5-12, 5.23), a onetime teammate of Ramirez in Boston who has never faced the veteran slugger. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in three starts against the White Sox in 2010.
Masterson is looking to win consecutive starts for the second time this season. He defeated the White Sox in Chicago on June 4, then beat Boston at home June 9. He allowed two runs over six solid innings Thursday in a 3-2 home victory over Oakland.
Cleveland is trying to avoid its fifth losing streak since the All-Star break of at least three games.