White Sox starter John Danks will look for his first win since July 25, and second since the All-Star break in Thursday's series finale against the playoff-hopeful Indians.
Danks went 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA in seven starts to end the first half, but has since gone 1-2 with a 7.98 ERA, a .340 batting average against and 10 homers. He's reached seven innings just once during that span, the lone win in seven outings.
The lefty's struggles have forced the beleaguered White Sox bullpen into action early. Manager Robin Ventura was asked if the relievers were auditioning over the final month.
"We've gone over the bullpen -- when a guy comes in, it's pass or fail when you go out there," Ventura said. "It's very much a focal point. When guys go out there, you can either do the job and get cheered or don't do the job and probably got booed. It's a ruthless position out there."
Carlos Carrasco takes the hill for Cleveland in his fourth start since returning to the rotation. He lost his spot in April after posting a 6.95 ERA in his first four appearances.
Since his return, Carrasco has averaged six innings per start, and boasts a .050 ERA and .117 average against with two walks and 17 strikeouts.
Indians manager Terry Francona said of Carrasco's last outing: "Shoot, he gave up his first run. He's done a really good job. Even as he starts to tire, he pitches and executes pitches and follows the game plan. He's really been a bright spot."
The White Sox snapped a season-high seven-game skid with Wednesday's 3-2 win, while he Indians dropped to 6 1/2 games out of the American League Central's top spot and stayed 4 1/2 out of the second AL Wild Card.
Indians: Ramirez continues to impress
Jose Ramirez is upping his long-term stock with the Indians as season draws to an end.
Ramirez has settled at shortstop since arriving via a trade with Washington that included Asdrubal Cabrera, who used to occupy that post. In 20 games with the Indians, Ramirez is batting .303.
He was thought to be relegated to second base or a future utility player with the arrival of top prospect Francisco Lindor. But Ramirez, 21, looks like he will hold short the rest of the way.
"He's done a heck of a job at short," Francona said. We know he can play second. We've put him at third. But he's a pretty good shortstop. When we traded Cabby, there was a reason. And it wasn't because we didn't like [Cabrera]."
White Sox: Konerko could see more time, though other vets may be limited
Paul Konerko is exactly a month away from retirement, and will likely be called on in more occasions than his usual bench role. Ventura said he will likely play all four games against the Royals leading to season's end on Sept. 28.
Konerko embraced what he jokingly said would be a physical challenge.
"If they play me too much, I might demand a trade," the captain Konerko said. "I don't think that's going to be a problem. Listen, this has all been good. The whole thing, there's no expectation on my part. I don't want anybody out there trying to make those guys feel uncomfortable."
General manager Rick Hahn, however, indicated that the White Sox would likely call up young talent given their position at the bottom of the AL Central standings.
"I don't think there's going to be any surprises for anyone if in fact some younger players are here, perhaps eating into a little bit of playing time come September," Hahn said. "That's part of where we are. And part of the reason we are where we are is that perhaps some of the older players didn't get us to the level that we wanted to be at this year."
• The Indians have used 10 pitchers through the series' first two games.
• Three White Sox are among the top 10 in AL batting average -- Jose Abreu (.312), Conor Gillaspie (.307) and Adam Eaton (.305).
Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.