Guardians hope to level season series with White Sox

Amid their miserable season, the Chicago White Sox have been surprisingly successful against the American League Central-leading Cleveland Guardians.

On Thursday, the White Sox can win another series against the Guardians by handing them their first home loss with Ben Lively on the mound this season.

Chicago is a major-league-worst 25-63 and just 7-22 against Central Division foes. However, after leveling the current three-game set with an 8-2 victory on Wednesday, the White Sox are 5-4 vs. Cleveland, which us among the best teams in baseball at 22 games over .500.

“Just for some reason we play teams a little tougher,” said Chicago’s Erick Fedde, who improved to 6-3 on Wednesday. “Every time we play (the Guardians), we’ve battled. … For some reason, we play good baseball against them.”

Fedde allowed one run over six strong innings while Lenyn Sosa had three hits with an RBI on Wednesday for Chicago, which is hitting .221 and averaging 3.2 runs in 2024 but is batting .252 and averaging 4.3 runs against the Guardians this season. The White Sox took three of four from Cleveland in Chicago in May.

Sosa has five hits, including three doubles, in the current series. The third baseman is 9-for-18 in his past four games for the White Sox, who are 9-34 on the road. Their only winning series away from came at St. Louis from May 3-5.

Meanwhile, the Guardians saw their six-game home winning streak end as their batting average against Chicago this season fell to .214. Cleveland is 27-10 at home, where it is 5-0 when Lively (7-4, 3.03 ERA) takes the ball.

The 32-year-old right-hander has exceeded expectations in his first season with the Guardians, his fourth team since breaking into the majors in 2017. Lively, who has the lowest ERA of any Cleveland starter, is 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in those five home starts.

He has completed at least 5 2/3 innings in each home outing.

“Ben has been consistent for us all year,” Cleveland manager Stephen Vogt said.

Most recently, Lively surrendered two runs in six innings of a 2-1 road loss to the Kansas City Royals on June 27.

“We know what we’re gonna get from him,” Vogt said. “He’s gonna go out and attack and go deep into games. You can’t say enough about the job he’s done.”

At Chicago on May 9, however, Lively allowed three runs in the first two innings, and eight hits and three walks overall, but lasted 5 2/3 innings during a 3-2 loss. Tommy Pham and Eloy Jimenez each went 2-for-3 with a double against Lively in that contest, while Andrew Vaughn, who has 10 hits in nine games vs. Cleveland this season, added an RBI double.

Chicago’s Luis Robert Jr. has never faced Lively, but he is batting .360 (9-for-25) in his past six games.

The White Sox are set for a bullpen game on Thursday. Left-hander Jared Shuster (1-0, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make his first start of 2024 following 17 relief appearances. Last year, all 11 of his major league outings were starts for the Atlanta Braves, and he went 4-3 with a 5.81 ERA.

Shuster has made two career appearances against Cleveland, both out of the Chicago bullpen this year. In those outings, he tossed a combined five shutout innings.

Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez and Steven Kwan were selected All-Star Game starters on Wednesday, but they are a combined 1-for-15 in this series. With a homer on Wednesday, teammate Brayan Rocchio is 3-for-6 with two RBIs in the series.

–Field Level Media