CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon will try to build on his recent success when he takes the mound against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old southpaw is providing a rare bright spot in the second half for the White Sox (70-74), who are headed toward their eighth straight season without a playoff appearance. He has won five decisions in a row and posted seven consecutive quality starts, both of which mark career highs.
Rodon cannot afford to relax against the first-place Indians (83-61), who hold a six-game lead in the American League Central and are on track to claim their first division title since 2007.
Lately, however, Cleveland's offense has gone cold. The Indians have lost back-to-back games against the White Sox and were outscored 19-5 during those contests. A seven-run sixth inning powered Chicago to an 8-1 win over Cleveland on Tuesday.
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said he and his teammates needed to stay patient at the plate.
"We're going to lose games, but the way we're losing games is not right," Lindor said. "We've got to continue to play the game hard, continue to go out there and battle day in and day out. We'll be OK."
The White Sox selected Rodon out of North Carolina State with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft. He opened this season with a woeful 2-8 record and a 4.67 ERA before finding his groove. In his past seven outings, he is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA. He has improved his season totals to 7-8 with a 3.80 ERA.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (11-8, 4.85 ERA) will return to the Indians' rotation Wednesday to make his first start since Aug. 30. The 31-year-old will pitch on eight days' rest after his most recent appearance out of the bullpen Sept. 5. His return to the rotation was prompted by a forearm injury to right-hander Danny Salazar, whose status for the postseason could be in jeopardy.
An up-and-down season for Tomlin has taken a particularly ugly turn as of late. In seven appearances (six starts) since Aug. 5, he is 0-5 with an 11.06 ERA. During the skid, he has surrendered 47 hits, including 10 home runs, in 27 2/3 innings.
Tomlin has fared well against the White Sox during his career. He is 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA in eight games (seven starts). In his most recent outing at U.S. Cellular Field on May 24, he limited the South Siders to two runs in eight innings to earn the victory. His only blemish was allowing a home run to Adam Eaton.
For the sake of Tomlin and the team, White Sox manager Robin Ventura hopes his team's hot hitting continues.
"Right now, they are just playing hard," Ventura said. "Every guy is continuing to grind it out. Many guys across the board are contributing.
"Any time you do that, you play better. We play a better brand of baseball doing that. If we have offense like this, you want to keep it going and not think too much about it."