‘Complete’ Guardians not overlooking last-place White Sox

Entering July, the Cleveland Guardians are among the best teams in baseball and are looking to get better.

A prime opportunity arrives against the lowly Chicago White Sox.

Following a rough road trip, the Guardians eye a sixth straight home victory in Tuesday night’s series opener with the White Sox.

Sitting 22 games above .500 and tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the fourth-most victories in the majors (52), Cleveland has been one of this season’s biggest surprises. The Guardians own a six-game lead in the AL Central, rank among baseball’s leaders in runs scored (405) and boast an MLB-best bullpen ERA of 2.50.

“I just think we have a good club, top to bottom,” Cleveland pitcher Logan Allen said. “… We’re a complete team. I’m excited to keep it rolling.”

The Guardians, though, are far from a polished product. Cleveland finished 14-11 in June following a 3-4 road trip, where it just lost three of four at Kansas City.

“The season is not going to be perfect,” second baseman Andres Gimenez told reporters following Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Royals. “You’re going to have a bad series. You’re going to have to go through that, stay positive and try to play better the next couple of series.”

Though the Guardians are 26-9 at home, where they’ve outscored opponents 33-12 during a five-game winning streak, they have gone 3-4 this season against the White Sox, who are a major league-worst 24-62. Cleveland is hitting just .221 as a team against Chicago with 60 strikeouts.

After the Guardians won two of three against the White Sox at Cleveland in early April, Chicago took three of four at home in May. The White Sox are a dreadful 8-33 on the road, but might have some momentum after closing June on a 3-1 stretch — all at home.

Scheduled Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco (3-6, 5.27 ERA) has gone 1-0 in his last two starts, allowing three runs (two homers) and striking out 10 over 11 innings. However, he yielded five runs (three earned) over seven innings of the Guardians’ 6-3 loss at Chicago on May 10.

Paul DeJong and Korey Lee each homered off the veteran right-hander in that contest. DeJong is 3-for-10 with two homers all-time against Carrasco. White Sox teammates Eloy Jimenez and Tommy Pham are a combined 10-for-22, each with a home run, versus Carrasco.

Jimenez had three hits and Andrew Vaughn homered Sunday, but Chicago’s three-game winning streak ended with a 5-4, 14-inning home defeat to Colorado. Vaughn, who batted .337 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 25 June games, is hitting .308 in those seven versus Cleveland this season.

“Just dedicated to my work,” Vaughn told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Getting my work in the cage and just trusting it.”

Scheduled White Sox starter Chris Flexen (2-7, 5.13 ERA) faces Cleveland for the first time in 2024. He’s looking for a cleaner outing after he allowed four runs, six hits (two homers) and three walks in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-3 home loss to the Dodgers on June 25.

Cleveland’s Josh Naylor is 2-for-4 against Flexen, and has batted .350 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 44 career games versus Chicago. Teammate Steven Kwan, batting .368 in 2024, has hit .345 in 35 contests against the White Sox.

–Field Level Media