Indians-White Sox Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- Help is on the way for the Cleveland Indians' struggling offense.
Johnny Damon will be available to make his Indians debut, while Shin-Soo Choo is expected to return when Cleveland opens a three-game road series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
Cleveland has struggled badly at the plate over the past seven games, scoring 17 runs in that span while going 3-4. The Indians (11-9) have also gone 11 games without a home run, their longest drought since a 14-game streak from April 10-22, 1983.
That likely caused the Indians to bring up Damon sooner than anticipated. Cleveland signed the 38-year-old to a minor league contract last month and had planned for him to play in some games in the minors before joining the Indians.
Damon, 277 hits shy of 3,000, is expected to split playing time with Shelley Duncan in left field. He hit .261 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season.
Choo is also expected back after missing five games with a left hamstring injury. Choo, limited to 85 games because of injuries in 2011, is hitting .237 with five doubles and nine RBIs this year.
Cleveland managed a split of its six-game homestand by defeating Los Angeles 4-0 on Sunday. Despite their offensive struggles, the Indians gave up only four runs in taking two of three from the Angels.
The Indians are above .500 because of their play on the road, where they are 7-2 and have averaged 6.0 runs. They'll try to extend that success against the White Sox, who like Cleveland are 4-7 at home.
Chicago (11-11) avoided a four-game sweep by visiting Boston with a 4-1 victory Sunday. After wasting Jake Peavy's complete game in a 1-0 loss Saturday, the White Sox bounced back behind Gavin Floyd, who took a no-hitter into the seventh.
Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer in the first and Matt Thornton earned his first save with 1 1-3 innings, retiring Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in the ninth.
Manager Robin Ventura turned to Thornton instead of Hector Santiago, who is 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA and two blown saves. He's allowed four homers in 6 1-3 innings.
Despite Santiago's issues, Ventura still has confidence in the closer.
"It is nothing against Hector, he still will be in there in the ninth, but you're looking at a guy with a body of work against those three guys," Ventura said. "I felt confident leaving Matt in there."
Ventura has good reason to feel confident about Chris Sale (2-1, 3.12 ERA) as well. Sale, in his first year as a starter, went a career-high eight innings at Oakland last Wednesday, allowing two runs in a 5-4, 14-inning loss.
The left-hander also pitched well against the Indians on April 9, allowing one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-2 victory.
He'll be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (2-1, 4.50), who surrendered four runs on a pair of homers in six innings of an 8-2 loss to Kansas City last Wednesday.
The right-hander went 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in four starts against the White Sox last season, pitching at least six innings three times.
This is the first of 10 meetings between the AL Central rivals this month. Chicago won the first two in an abbreviated series in Cleveland in April.
Updated April 30, 2012