Surging Indians look to close gap on White Sox

White Sox

Perhaps the only thing that might slow down Jose Ramirez is a day off.

Ramirez and the Cleveland Indians (31-24) look to ride the momentum of his dramatic three-run homer in the 10th inning into Wednesday’s game versus the visiting Chicago White Sox (34-21).

The homer that capped Cleveland’s 5-3 victory on Tuesday was Ramirez’s sixth in as many games and 12th in his last 24. He is also riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he is 14-for-28 with 16 RBIs.

Ramirez’s torrid play has made him a trendy candidate in the American League MVP discussion, even if he isn’t interested in talking about it.

“I consider myself as a guy who works a lot,” Ramirez said in a postgame interview with FOX Sports Ohio. “Everything I have achieved is through hard work. I’ve been a finalist for two years. But if it happens, it happens. I don’t think about it. What I focus on is having a blast every time I’m on the field.”

The Indians have won five of their last six contests overall and six of eight meetings with Chicago this season to pull within three games of the AL Central-leading White Sox.

Right-hander Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.74 ERA) will get the nod on Wednesday after seeing his scheduled start pushed back a day. The move was made to put the 25-year-old in line to start Game 1 of the AL wild-card series when postseason play begins next Tuesday.

Bieber, a leading candidate for his first AL Cy Young Award, carried a shutout into the eighth inning in his last outing and struck out 10 batters in Cleveland’s 10-3 win over Detroit on Thursday. He has fanned at least eight in all 11 of his starts this season.

The 2019 All-Star Game MVP owns a 2-2 record with a 3.27 ERA in seven career starts versus Chicago, however he had a no-decision in his last meeting on Aug. 9. He surrendered two homers and three runs total on four hits in six innings in that contest.

While the Indians punched their ticket to the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons, the White Sox are clinging to their lead atop the AL Central after dropping three in a row.

“It’s not just getting in,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “We want to accomplish the ultimate goal. … We’re all on the same page with that, we all want to go as far as we can.”

And how far is that?

“If we don’t win the World Series, then we haven’t really done what we came to do,” said right-hander Lucas Giolito (4-3, 3.53 ERA), who will get the start on Wednesday.

“I thought that making the postseason was a good step in the right direction. But now that we’re here, it’s: Why not go out and win the whole thing?”

Giolito, 26, has recorded a pair of no-decisions against Cleveland this season. He scattered four hits over six scoreless innings on July 29 and worked around five walks in seven innings on Aug. 9.

Giolito sports a 2-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in six career starts versus the Indians, although Francisco Lindor (5-for-16) and Ramirez (5-for-17, homer) have fared well against him.

–Field Level Media

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