White Sox-Indians Preview

The Associated Press

The Cleveland Indians' season-opening series had a little bit of everything - from the longest-ever opening-day game to blown leads to excellent starting pitching.

They'd like to focus on the latter heading into their three-game series against the Chicago White Sox that begins Monday night at Progressive Field.

Cleveland played 28 combined innings in losing by identical 7-4 scores Friday and Saturday, but Derek Lowe pitched seven solid innings and Chris Perez retired Jose Bautista with the tying run aboard to beat Toronto 4-3 in the series finale Sunday.

Carlos Santana homered twice on his 26th birthday and drove in three runs.

"Let's tell him it's his birthday every day,'' Perez said.

It seemed like cause to celebrate for the Indians (1-2) after finally hanging on to earn their first win.

"It's a funny game. You blow one when up by three (Friday), then save one against one of the best hitters in the game," manager Manny Acta said.

Despite dropping two of three, Cleveland's starters allowed three earned runs and eight hits in 22 combined innings, and Josh Tomlin looks to deliver another solid performance Monday .

The right-hander went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 starts in 2011, but finished 1-3 with a 4.84 ERA in his final seven starts.

Tomlin, who has never faced the White Sox, said he hopes to follow the example set by the first three starters.

"They've all pitched well enough to keep us in the game every single time and that's our job - to go out there, pitch deep in games and give us a chance to win," Tomlin told the team's official website. "If we can keep this up all year long, that'd be something we can kind of hang our hats on.

"I'm definitely going to try to go out there and mimic kind of what they're doing. That's all you can do, give it your best and shoot for what they've done."

Chris Sale may also be taking pointers from Chicago's starters as he prepares to make his first career start after pitching out of the bullpen in his first two major league seasons.

Sale, who has a 2.58 career ERA in 79 relief appearances, enters the rotation after Mark Buehrle left for Miami in the offseason. The left-hander said he's trying to make the transition from reliever to starter go as smoothly as possible.

"As a reliever, you sometimes are coming into situations and it's right there, right now," Sale told the team's official website. "As a starter, it's more length and more focus. You have 100-plus pitches as a starter and you have to stay focused on each pitch. You can throw 50 great ones, but on that 51st pitch, if you take off, that could be the one that kills you."

The White Sox (1-2) hope they can provide some run support after falling 5-0 to Texas in the series finale Sunday. They left nine runners on base and their 1-6 hitters went a combined 2 for 21.

Robin Ventura's club went 2 for 19 with runners in scoring position in Arlington.

Chicago won six of nine meetings in Cleveland in 2011, scoring a season-high 15 runs in an opening-day victory.