Well-rested White Sox, Indians set for doubleheader

Field Level Media

September 23, 2021 at 1:09 am.

The Chicago White Sox and host Cleveland Indians will be rested entering Thursday’s doubleheader that begins a five-game series.

Both clubs saw their respective Wednesday matinees postponed due to inclement weather. The White Sox (85-66) will make up their game against the Tigers in Detroit on Monday, while the Indians (74-76) will host the Kansas City Royals on the same day.

As for Thursday, Chicago likely will be inspired as its magic number to clinch its first American League Central title since 2008 rests at two games.

White Sox manager Tony La Russa, however, is more interested in how his team is playing heading into the playoffs as opposed to just punching its ticket to the second season.

“These 11 games (to finish the regular season), I wish we could have played today. Use the 11 games to get ready for Game 1,” La Russa said on Wednesday. “As long as we compete, we’ll be ready. The thing is you never take that for granted.”

Chicago has lost five of its last seven games, prompting La Russa to view his team with a critical eye.

“You’ve got to be able to execute in this league, and our execution is not where it has to be in all phases,” he said.

The White Sox will send right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 3.00 ERA) to the mound for the first contest of the doubleheader. They’ll decide on their starting pitcher for the nightcap depending on the result of Game 1.

Lopez, who was scheduled to start on Wednesday, gave up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in four innings to the Los Angeles Angels in his last outing.

Lopez, 27, struck out four and allowed one hit in three scoreless innings of a no-decision against Cleveland on Aug. 1. He owns a 2-3 record with a 3.71 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) versus the Indians.

Cleveland right-hander Aaron Civale (11-4, 3.40) will get the nod in the opener, while Zach Plesac (10-6, 4.59) will look to snap a modest two-game skid when he takes the mound in the nightcap.

With all due respect to both Civale and Plesac, another Indians pitcher was the topic of the day on Wednesday. Reigning AL Cy Young Award recipient Shane Bieber was deemed ready to return Friday after a three-plus-month absence due to a right shoulder sprain.

“We’ll definitely have a pitch count on him,” acting manager DeMarlo Hale said of Bieber. “We haven’t established that yet, but it won’t be too big of a jump from the rehab game there in the minor leagues to the big leagues.”

Civale, 26, scattered four hits over six scoreless innings in an 11-3 win at the New York Yankees on Saturday.

He improved to 4-2 with a 3.51 ERA in six career starts against the White Sox after permitting one run on five hits in six innings in a 4-2 victory in Chicago on April 15.

Yoan Moncada (6-for-14) and Tim Anderson (5-for-15) have enjoyed success versus Civale, although the hurler has flustered Yasmani Grandal (1-for-9, five strikeouts).

Plesac, 26, surrendered five runs on seven hits — including two homers — in an 8-0 loss to the Yankees on Friday.

Plesac owns a 1-2 record with a 9.53 ERA in three starts versus the White Sox this season. All told, he is 2-4 with a 4.70 ERA in eight career encounters with Chicago.