After a shaky start, the Cleveland Indians are starting to resemble the squad that came within one win of a World Series championship last season.
On Friday, the suddenly surging Indians go for their fourth win in a row when they open a weekend series against the White Sox in Chicago. Cleveland (8-7) is coming off a dominant three-game sweep in which it outscored the Minnesota Twins 20-7.
"We had a week where we couldn't put it together on both sides in the same game," Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer told reporters in Minnesota before the team departed for Chicago. "We'd score some runs and we'd give up a lot, or we'd pitch well and not score. I think we're starting to get into the rhythm of the season and starting to put together all three sides of the ball -- defense, pitching, hitting."
The White Sox (7-7) also are looking to establish a winning rhythm as they return to Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time since April 9. Chicago's six-game homestand includes three with Kansas City after a nine-game road trip in which they went 5-4.
Left-hander Jose Quintana (0-3, 6.75 ERA) takes the mound for the White Sox. The 28-year-old inherited the ace role after fellow left-hander Chris Sale was shipped to the Boston Red Sox, but Quintana has allowed 13 runs in 17 1/3 innings to open the season.
Command has been part of Quintana's problem; he has walked nine batters to go along with 14 strikeouts. He took advantage of a side session this week to focus on his mechanics.
Quintana is 7-3 with a 2.53 ERA in 19 career appearances (17 starts) against the Indians. Last season, he limited the eventual American League champions to nine runs in 33 2/3 innings (2.41 ERA).
"Feel good," Quintana told reporters in New York. "I keep practicing my command and (working) on all of my strengths. Never change. I'm turning the page on last time and focusing on Friday."
Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber (1-1, 6.38 ERA) also is looking to jump-start his season after three up-and-down performances. Kluber has given up five home runs among 20 hits in 18 1/3 innings.
The White Sox have grown familiar with Kluber over the past few seasons, but that will not make their task any easier Friday night. Kluber is 6-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 15 career appearances (14 starts) against Chicago. He has walked 21 and struck out 100 in 99 1/3 innings.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is expected to rejoin the team during the series, although his status for Friday is uncertain. Kipnis has been on the disabled list since the start of the season because of a strained right rotator cuff. His return was delayed further after he was hit by a pitch during a minor league injury rehabilitation stint.
White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier also could be in the starting lineup Friday after missing six of his past eight games and reportedly losing several pounds because of the flu. Frazier has struggled so far, hitting .111 (3-for-27), with one home run and one RBI, in eight contests.