Although many people render April standings pointless, the games during the season's first month mean just as much as the ones played in September, especially ones between division foes.
The White Sox and Indians continue their early-season American League Central battle Saturday at Progressive Field, and it is yet another important game for Cleveland as the Indians face White Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale.
"Tonight is the most important day of what we're doing," Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Friday's 1-0 win. "I think we always feel like that. You can ask me that question every game, and the answer is going to be the same, because that's how we feel. The most important thing we're doing is right now -- not yesterday and not tomorrow. That'll never change."
After Friday's win, the Indians are focused on the next task at hand. It is an even tougher one than usual against Sale (1-0, 1.84 ERA), who last year proved to be one of the league's top pitchers and is continuing to show his dominance early this season.
The young lefty surrendered two home runs in a no-decision in his last outing against the Mariners, allowing three runs in seven innings, his second consecutive strong outing after tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings on Opening Day.
"It wasn't his best day as far as command and even stuff," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said of Sale. "But that's how good he is, where he can shut down a pretty good offense like that and keep us in the game and give us a chance."
Sale will try to give the White Sox a chance to snap their four-game losing streak Saturday against the Indians and right-hander Zach McAllister (0-1, 3.00), who allowed four runs (two earned) in six innings in a no-decision against the Rays on April 5.
McAllister has a 3.12 ERA in three career starts against the White Sox, but he has lost five of his last seven decisions at Progressive Field.
White Sox: Rios keeps hitting
Right fielder Alex Rios continued his hot start to the season Friday, going 1-for-4. He has hit safely in all 10 games this season and has a 16-game hitting streak dating back to last season.
• Reliever Jessie Crain's loss in relief Friday was his 500th career appearance.
• Chicago's bullpen has a 2.10 ERA and a .212 average against this season.
Indians: Santana might return
Carlos Santana's bruised left hand, which he sustained Monday, does not appear to be serious, and Francona said the catcher could return Saturday against the White Sox.
"He's progressing so well there's a chance he might play tomorrow," Francona said Friday. "We'll see. It depends on how he gets through batting practice and everything, taking into consideration how cold it is and everything. But he's doing well."
• Nick Swisher has hit safely in each of his last 19 games at Progressive Field, a streak that dates back to Sept. 2, 2008, when he was a member of the White Sox.
• Michael Bourn has multi-hit efforts in five of his first eight games with the Indians.
• The White Sox are 16-7 in their last 23 games at Progressive Field.
• Chicago center fielder Alejandro De Aza is a .367 career hitter against the Indians, including a .372 mark at Progressive Field.
• White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo is hitting .300 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 27 career games against Cleveland.
• Sale's lone career start at Progressive Field came more than a year ago (April 9, 2012). He tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball for the victory.
• White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko has one hit in nine career at-bats against McAllister.