Inconsistent White Sox offense seeks breakthrough against Indians

MLB

Two games remain in the Chicago White Sox’s first homestand of the season.

That means White Sox fans have at least six more opportunities this week to serenade reigning American League Most Valuable Player Jose Abreu with the “M-V-P” chant when he comes to the plate at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Such has been the standard treatment for Abreu entering Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians, although Abreu admittedly is off his MVP pace from a season ago, matching a career-long trend of slow starts.

“It’s just who I am as a baseball player,” Abreu said. “I usually don’t start the season super hot. I’m going to keep getting better. You know me — I’m going to keep working hard. I’m not concerned about my offense.”

Abreu is batting .209 after going 1-for-3 with a walk during Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Indians in 10 innings. Abreu collected one of three White Sox hits against Indians ace Shane Bieber but also had one of his team’s 12 overall strikeouts.

Despite his ups and downs as well as Chicago’s inconsistency as a team, Abreu said he is confident the White Sox can get rolling as they return to health. An encouraging early sign? A propensity for taking walks — even if the stingy Bieber allowed only one on Tuesday night.

“If we sustain that when our offense clicks, we’re going to be a very dangerous team,” Abreu said. “That’s the good thing about this. We’re not in sync yet as an offense, but we still have good things to show, like the walks.”

One night after struggling to solve Bieber, the White Sox are set to face another top Indians pitcher in Zach Plesac (1-1, 1.38 ERA). In his most recent start Friday, the right-hander showed pinpoint control in a no-decision against the Detroit Tigers, scattering three hits and six strikeouts in seven shutout innings in a game the Indians won.

Plesac boasts a 3.03 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox, going 1-2 with 36 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.

The Cleveland bullpen will be well-rested Wednesday. The Indians needed just one inning of relief on Tuesday, as James Karinchak recorded his first save of the season and the second of his career with a perfect 10th inning. Jake Lamb flied out to the warning track in right center against Karinchak to end the game.

“He can make you hold your breath a little bit, but his stuff is dominant,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “As long as he stays in the zone, he’s going to be just fine. He’s up in the zone with his fastball, but when he get to two strikes, hitters have a hard time because he has such good velocity, and then the breaking ball spinning off of it.”

Chicago lefty Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is set to get the call after missing Monday’s scheduled start with stomach discomfort. Rodon pitched five scoreless innings of two-hit ball in his season debut April 5 in Seattle, spacing three walks and nine strikeouts in the Sox’s 6-0 win.

In 17 career appearances against Cleveland, including 15 starts, Rodon is 5-5 with a 2.94 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 98 innings.

–Field Level Media

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