Adam Dunn’s 406 home runs are the most among active players without a postseason appearance.
The Chicago White Sox slugger, who acknowledges the homers get more meaningful the closer it gets to October, could be getting his first taste of playoff baseball shortly.
Dunn looks to help the White Sox build on a thrilling victory and maintain their slim lead atop the AL Central when they face the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday afternoon.
It appeared Chicago (82-71) was going to drop into a first-place tie with Detroit with the way things were looking in the late innings in Monday’s opener with the Indians (63-91). The Tigers had already won, and the White Sox were on the verge of dropping their sixth in a row, trailing 3-2 in the eighth with two out and one on. Kevin Youkilis then hit an infield single and Dunn followed with his second homer of the game, 41st of the year, helping lift Chicago to a 5-4 win that kept the club a game up on Detroit.
“The last homer, that probably was the most important so far in my career,” said Dunn, who entered the homestand mired in 2-for-23 slump. “That was a win we needed.”
Dunn has now reached the 40-homer mark six times, and is hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in his 12-year career.
“Obviously everybody wants to get to the postseason, but it’s just fun,” said Dunn, who is batting .333 with five homers and nine RBIs in seven home games against Cleveland. “It’s fun right now when every single game matters. I think a lot of times you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Take a step back once in a while.”
Things aren’t quite as fun for the Indians, who’ve lost 42 of 55 and own the AL’s worst record. They’ve also lost the last six meetings with Chicago, and haven’t dropped seven straight in the series since 1985.
The White Sox have switched the time of Tuesday’s matchup up six hours from 7:10 p.m. CDT to avoid a conflict with Yom Kippur. Youkilis, who is Jewish, told reporters the switch was a good move for the playoff stretch because now he would be able to play on that day.
For the afternoon start, the White Sox will turn to Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.24 ERA), who allowed three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings but left without a decision in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Kansas City.
The left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts against the Indians, but he hasn’t faced them as a starter since July last season. He’s made two relief appearances against them since.
Despite his success versus Cleveland, Asdrubal Cabrera has always given him trouble, going 12 for 22 (.545) in their matchups.
Cabrera doubled twice Monday, and is batting .333 with seven walks against Chicago.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber (1-4, 5.36) will be making his first appearance against the White Sox since throwing a scoreless inning of relief Sept. 22 last season, his second big league game.
The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits in six innings in Thursday’s 4-3, 10-inning win over Minnesota, helping the Indians win for just the second time in his 10 starts.