Know Your Enemy: Desperation in Cleveland

For the second time in three weeks, the White Sox are facing the Cleveland Fightin’ Stereotypes, this time within the comforts of the GRate as the Sox start their 2019 swan song of a homestand. Of course, the Pale Hose are performing their obligated duties by fielding a 25-man roster of players to face the opponents set before them as they begin clearing their lockers and tipping their attendants/ball boys/tithing to Papa Reinsdorf. But this article isn’t about Tim Anderson’s approaching the goal line of winning a batting title or Eloy Jiménez using this month to feast on tired/spent pitching arms and clobbering milestone homers like this one in Detroit:

NO SIR. This is Know Your Enemy. And we need to discuss the current present and rapidly approaching unknown future for the Tribe from Cleveland. So let’s do this as I started with the KYE: Angels Edition, and give you the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? about the Lindians!

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These are the Indians (OK, I really can’t keep up with the witty clever ways to avoid mentioning their unfortunate moniker) who started September 4.5 games behind the first-place Twins and in a tie for the A’s for the top wild card spot. Last we saw them, Cleveland failed to take advantage of a four-game series with the Sox, splitting it. One of those losses was the last time Reynaldo López looked like a competent pitcher in 2019:

And while Cleveland was able to go on a bit of a run, winning two of three in Minnesota, any gains were given back per the laws of alchemy by losing two of three against the Twins in Cleveland a week later. And as of Saturday night, the entire month of hard work and effort trying to retake control the AL Central resulted in a whole half-game net gain in the standings. Starting Sunday, the Indians were four games back with seven to play. Their up-and-down play has dropped them completely out of both wild card spots, however they remain one game back of the second WC spot (Rays) and three back of the first WC (Oakland)

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The Indians … whoo boy. Well, I guess they were trying to honor the Native Americans … in their own, early ass hell 20th Century kind of reasoning according to Wikipedia:

The name “Indians” originated from a request by club owner Charles Somers to baseball writers to choose a new name to replace “Cleveland Naps” following the departure of Nap Lajoie after the 1914 season. The name referenced the nickname “Indians” that was applied to the Cleveland Spiders baseball club during the time when Louis Sockalexis, a Native American, played in Cleveland.

I, for one, would 100% fully support the renaming to the Cleveland Naps. #MakeClevelandNapAgain

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Per Wikipedia:

Cleveland…is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County.[7] The city proper has a population of 383,793, making it the 52nd-largest city in the United States and the second-largest city in Ohio.[5] Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 33rd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,057,009 people in 2018.[8] A Gamma + city, Cleveland anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States. The city is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, across the U.S. maritime border with Canada and approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border.

Fascinating stuff! Also… I’m not sure “Welcome to Brownstown” is the best use of marketing dollars…

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Tuesday, September 24th @ 7:10 p.m.
Hector Santiago (1-1, 5.65 ERA) vs. Mike Clevinger (12-3, 2.54 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Mike “Just Passed” Gasick

Wednesday, September 25th @ 7:10 p.m. Ross Detwiler (2-5, 6.98 ERA) vs. Shane Bieber (15-7, 3.23 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Ja-NotSo-Nice Scurio

Thursday, September 26th @ 7:10 p.m. Dylan Cease (4-7, 5.79 ERA) vs. Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.82 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Leigh “Private Dick” Allen

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Well, Larry, the deal is that the Indians clearly cannot afford to lose this series against the White Sox. Cleveland has only six games remaining, and barring every Twins slugger contracting Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, a division title is extremely unlikely. The Cleveland Show (I actually liked that Family Guy spinoff) ends their regular season with three more games against an extremely-motivated-to-host-the-NL-Wild-Card-Game Washington Nationals where, thanks to the random joys of season-long interleague play, they will lose their DH in an NL park. Cleveland will also need Oakland (two vs LAA; four @ SEA) and Tampa Bay (one vs BOS; two vs NYY; three @ TOR) to falter just enough for them to sneak in to the playoffs. Again, all scenarios are still open for varying levels of playoff participation, but their destiny is out of their hands.

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Well Mark Walhberg from M. Night Shamaylan’s The Happening, the White Sox truly have their work cut out for them in the series, with Nova and Big Boss Ross starting the first two games and Dylan Cease, who’s about as reliable as most of Shamaylan’s film career since The Sixth Sense. Hopefully the Sox will find a way to at least even out their home/road home run deficiencies as they have only hit 81 homers at the GRate vs 92 yabos in the various hovels other teams call ballparks. Or maybe the Sox can find the spoiler within and will themselves to be the second Chicago team to crush Cleveland’s playoff spirits in four seasons (ok, on a much smaller and meaningless scale, to be fair).

So there you have it. For those of you hoping for the White Sox to finish strong and send those Cleveland fans into the unreliable arms of Baker Mayfield for the remainder of 2019, just know the folks at Tankathon.com have the Sox with the ninth pick in the 2020 draft, 1.5 games “behind” Colorado and 1.5 games “ahead” of San Diego. And damn it to hell, if the Sox find a way to let the Padres “win” again … (I mean they went ahead and fired their manager Andy Green with a week left in the season … our team extends losing managers with secret extensions and free ceviche lessons after every game.)

And just for laughs … here’s Jack Parkman with the shimmy that makes all the women in Cleveland want to puke:


Know Your Enemy: Cleveland

(@Indians)


When we last saw Cleveland, we took three of four at home in late May/early June, putting both teams in a tie for second place in the AL Central with 29-30 records.

Since then, a lot has improved for Cleveland, and not much has gone right for the White Sox.

The Wahoos improved from a league-worst bullpen to a league leading 3.43 ERA, coming in at 101 fewer runs allowed than the AL average of 283, with a meager 182. Shortstop Francisco Lindor Is hitting .297 post All-Star Break, and is destroying right-handed pitching. Second baseman and Northbrook native Jason Kipnis has raised his batting average by about 50 points since we last saw him, and the two of them have .980 and .989 fielding percentages, respectively. (By contrast, Tim Anderson’s fielding percentage this season is .944, lowest by a position player in the majors). 

The White Sox had a rather forgettable June, going 11-13 and not really doing anything important other than claiming Jimmy Cordero off waivers. Jimmy Biceps has been my favorite bullpen pitcher this second half, and other than DFA-ing Yonder Alonso, it was perhaps the best decision the White Sox made during the month. We also lost Anderson to an ankle sprain, and we hobbled into July to play arguably the worst month of baseball in recent memory. The White Sox went 7-17, including a seven-game skid immediately following the All Star Break. Other than Dylan Cease’s debut, July pretty much sucked. We had the failed A.J. Reed experiment, lots of Dylan Covey, and lots of trade speculation. We didn’t do much at the deadline, sending Nate Jones and a pile of The Money Will Be Spent™ cash to the Texas Rangers in exchange for two minor league pitchers.

The Indians received two-sport athlete Yasiel Puig (check out his soccer skills below) and his red mohawk from the Reds in a trade that sent resident lunatic Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, and he claims he doesn’t miss Cleveland.

So far this season, the White Sox are 7-5 against the Indians, with a 3-3 record at Progressive Field. The South Siders are in an interesting position for the remainder of this season, as Cleveland currently sits 5.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, and currently half a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the top wild card spot, with the Oakland A’s one half-game behind. The next closest hopeful, the Boston Red Sox, are five games back. If we can take at least two of these games and the others in the wild-card chase play well, there is a chance we can play spoilsport to Cleveland’s postseason hopes.

Cleveland is pretty easy to hate, even without Chief Wahoo. We all know how Joakim Noah feels about the former Land of LeBron:

To quote our very own Mike Gasick, “I’ll never forgive this stupid team for blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series. Worst day of my life.”

Probable starters are:

Monday, September 2:  Ross Detwiler vs. Aaron Civale (6:10 pm, NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With Detwiler pitching in Saturday’s circus show, this matchup is likely to change. Civale has been impressive in his rookie season, and I expect him to be in the Cleveland rotation next season. He’s got a nasty sinker, averages five strikeouts per game and his WHIP is 0.90. We’re going to need some good luck and possibly an exorcism before we face this guy.

Tuesday, September 3: Dylan Cease vs. Mike Clevinger (6:10 pm, WGN/WGN-AM 720) If Cease can limit the first-inning damage, this could be a fun one. If Dylan gets rocked early, Clevinger could wipe the floor with us.

Wednesday, September 4: Iván Nova vs. Shane Bieber (6:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) Shane Bieber has gone 0-2 in his last three starts, including a no-decision to the Kansas City Royals, sandwiched by losses to the New York Mets and Rays. He’s got a good fastball, so expect a lot of South Side strikeouts.

Thursday, September 5: Reynaldo López vs. Zach Plesac (12:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With ReyLo chased out of the game without making it through a single inning on Saturday, this will be his chance for redemption. Plesac, a rookie, is a good pitcher but also is hittable, so if ReyLo gets some run support, he’s got a good shot at taking this one.

With September callups always a possibility, we might be seeing some new faces in the dugout by the end of this series. But for now, we’ve got Manny Bañuelos and Carson Fulmer swelling our bench to 27.

If you can make it through all four games, I promise to give you a special treat in Thursday’s game recap. Until then, let’s try to make it harder for Cleveland to make the wild card playoff game.

Chief Wahoo became Chief WaChew in my house.
Support our Patreon to send a steady supply of opponents’ hats to Angie.

Know Your Enemy: The Angels

Danny Glover sees Angels ... on the day before he was due to retire.
Have mercy, Disney, it’s our first day: Murtaugh, Dick Grayson, and a precocious tyke learn to believe in Angels.

Good day to you, Chicago White Sox fans! My name is Leonard Gore, and I’m one of South Side Hit Pen’s newest contributors! I got my feet wet over at South Side Sox, taking a look at the 2020 schedule, but I’ll be fitting into the rotation here for the rest of the season, and hopefully for many years to come! Check out my Meet the Players piece on site today to learn a little more about me. You can also learn more about me by following @Leonard42 on Twitter.

OK, enough chit chat, let’s get to the good stuff.

(Hold up. Before we get started, I have to once again give a whole heaping amount of praise for James “Yes He” McCann for gifting Sox fans the No. 1 White Sox win of 2019 so far. Wow just … one more look at that salami …

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Angels programming!)


Continuing on their tour of the AL West, the White Sox travel to the land of Mickey Mouse and the modern day Mickey Mantle to face Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Ana— wait … (checks Baseball-Reference) oh … that’s it. It’s just The Los Angeles Angels now! Evidently they jettisoned that clunky “of Anaheim” addendum after the 2015 season. That’s gonna save a ton of extra keystrokes. Know what? Heck with that pretentious, country-club name. They’re just gonna be the Angels.

Fun fact! Owner and not a telenovela villain Arte Moreno jammed in the Los Angeles prefix just in time to be relevant enough to get run over by four straight complete games in the 2005 ALCS (man, that’s a sequence of events that will never, ever happen again will it?)

Anyway, back to Trout and the 2019 Angels … or is it the 2018 Angels? 2017? I really can’t tell any of these Angels squads apart because even with the equivalent of Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl playing center field, the Angles have finished an average of 21 games out of first place in the past three-plus seasons in the admittedly-strong AL West. However, even with Rob Manfred all but pleading with the Angels to take at one of two flipping wild card spots, the franchise has taken the middling road to mediocrity and are slowly morphing Trout into my generation’s Ernie Banks. (Yes, I know the Angles made the playoffs in 2014 … but when you get swept by the Kansas City Royals (!), did your playoff even happen bro?)

Anyway, since I’m obligated to continue to writing about a baseball team that clearly got one of those wishes made true in a deal with the devil that turns out to have a sinister twist like … Trout sprouts literal gills, here are the 5 W’s and 1 How about the Angels of California:

Who are the Angels?
Other than Trout aka Good Homelander (go watch “The Boys” on Amazon, it’s amazing), you have the defending ROY Shohei Ohtani who was turned into a mere DH thanks to following the offseason Micker Adolfo Tommy John Plan, has been pretty much the same competent hitter which is … fine. Old man Albert Pujols has been consistent even in his obvious decline over the last few seasons, and even notched his 2,000th RBI (of course a dirty rotten Detroit Tigers fan got his hands on the HR ball). Tommy LaStella was doing a very good job rubbing his career year in the Cubbies faces before Jermaine Dye-ing his leg with a foul ball. Jonathan Lucroy got Jack Parkman-ed in Houston and was damaged enough to get cut and fail upwards onto the Cubs’ Ricketty (see what I did there?) playoff ship. Old friend Kevan Smith is doing Kevan Smith things.

Pitching-wise it is not pretty, with Ohtani unable to and of course, the untimely and tragic death of promising starter Tyler Skaggs. Remember Matt Harvey? Well a 7+ ERA and 2 HR/9 earned him a July DFAing. I could write about the rest of the chuckers, but honestly they’d have trouble even sticking in the White Sox rotation …so here’s a Trout highlight instead:

(I wasn’t gonna dump on Chris Sale at first, but he sided with Drake LaRoche so … fuck it. Enjoy!)

What are the Angels?
Trout and Ohtani dragging 23 other guys to perpetual 80-win seasons until the sun goes supernova.

Where are the Angles?
In their customary position waffling between third and fourth place in the AL West, thanking their Lord Mike Trout that the Seattle Mariners still exist.

When are the Sox playing the Angels?
It’s a four-game series so, there’s a good chance Trout hits 10 homers and the White Sox still find a way to split the series. Your probables are:

Thursday, August 15 @ 9:07 p.m. Reynaldo Lopez (7-9, 5.16 ERA) vs. Andrew Heaney (1-3, 4.89 ERA) … SSHP coverage: Janice Scurio

Friday, August 16 @ 9:07 p.m. Lucas Giolito (12-6, 3.42 ERA) vs. Patrick Sandoval (0-0, 5.59 ERA) *BILL WALTON KALEIDOSCOPIC COLOR COMMENTARY NIGHT* … SSHP coverage: Joe Resis, with Brett Ballantini tripping on mushrooms assisting

Saturday, August 17 @ 8:07 p.m. TBD vs. Jose Suarez (2-4, 6.57 ERA) … SSHP coverage: TBD

Sunday, August 18 @ 3:07 p.m. TBD vs. Griffin Canning (4-6, 4.86 ERA) … SSHP coverage: TBD

Why the Angels?
When the team was created in 1961, they played in Los Angeles proper and much like the Houston Texans, people were evidently no more creative back then even with all the psychedelic drugs available to them.

How do the Sox beat the Angels?
Either the Sox will be walking Trout 16 times or so this series, or just praying his at-bats come with nobody on base. Thankfully, he’s only one of nine Angels playing at any given moment (and a pretty massive one at that), so as long as he’s the only hitter getting his and Ohtani can be neutralized, this Angles team is basically the same outfit that has done the same shtick for the past few years: Be the team that hosting cities beg to have play them on the weekend to increase their attendance watching the closest thing to a truly 100% Unanimous Hall-of-Famer (sorry, Mariano) in real life.

With most of these games ending well after decent folk are sleeping, you’d be forgiven for catching the Twitter highlights the next morning, but you, dear reader, are not just any old fan. You are a White Sox fan goddammit, and no blatantly obvious hit job by the front office and their mouthpieces calling you “cowards” (really, Chuck?) and “trolls” is gonna stop you from watching a good six or seven innings before dozing off and wondering why George Foreman is selling crap you don’t need when you wake up from the couch at 3 a.m.

Even if you decide that, like Ralph Wiggum, sleep is where you get to be a Viking and choose it over watching the Sox try their best to not get blitzed by another West Coast team, that’s OK! We here at South Side Hit Pen will have you covered with game recaps by writers sufficiently caffeinated to get you all the details the next morning! And isn’t it always a pleasant surprise to wake up to good White Sox news now and then?

Go White Sox!

P.S. I can’t believe I made it this whole preview without bringing up the Sox drafting Jared Mitchell a pick before the Angels picked Trout! (ooooooohhhhhh crap 😩)

P.P.S. There are three or four instances where I called them the Angles. I bet you didn’t even notice!