Cleveland is two games under .500 but sits in a first-place tie with Minnesota in the dismal American League Central. The Guardians are amid a 7-3 stretch, though they must rebound after blowing a late 2-0 lead during 4-3, 10-inning loss at Kansas City on Thursday that spoiled their opportunity for a series sweep
"We had our chances," bench coach DeMarlo Hale said after the Guardians stranded 10 men and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Thursday. "Tough loss, but we'll move on and get ready for Chicago.
Hale could be guiding the Guardians for a fourth straight contest as manager Terry Francona recovers from a bout with lightheadedness that sent him to a Kansas City hospital earlier this week
"I've already started to push him a little bit on being thoughtful of the air quality; it's going to be hot, potentially rain (on Friday)," Guardians general manager Mike Chernoff said of Francona. "Just to be smart with how he's feeling with his body.
Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill (2-4, 5.61 ERA) is healthy enough to be activated on Friday for his first start after missing a month due to right shoulder inflammation. He allowed 14 runs, 12 hits and five walks in just 8 1/3 innings while losing his last two starts -- May 24 and May 30 -- before landing on the injured list
He has made just one start against the Cubs; in 2019, they roughed him up for eight runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. In four appearances vs. Chicago overall, he is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA
Chicago sits five games under .500 and is mired in a four-game skid that has immediately followed an 11-2 stretch. The Cubs have four losing streaks of at least four games, but they have logged three winning stretches of four or more, and they find themselves just five games out of first place in the National League Central
"We went on a good stretch just a minute ago, but I feel like we're being a little bit streaky," Cubs reliever Hayden Wesneski said. "I think we need to kind of even it out a little bit.
Having Justin Steele (8-2, 2.62) on the mound on Friday provides some confidence for Chicago. The left-hander has enjoyed a strong first half, and he has allowed three runs over 11 innings while winning his two starts since missing a little more than two weeks due to a forearm strain.
He yielded one of those runs and struck out eight through six innings during a 9-1 victory over St. Louis in London on Saturday. Though Steele tossed a scoreless two-thirds inning at Cleveland in 2021, this will be his first start against the Guardians
Cleveland ranks near the bottom of the majors with an average of 4.01 runs this season.
However, Guardians star Jose Ramirez is batting .408 (31-for-76) with seven homers and 22 RBIs in his past 19 games. Teammate Josh Naylor is hitting .395 (17-for-43) in his past 10
Chicago's Cody Bellinger is batting .353 (6-for-17) in the past five games. He is 3-for-9 vs. Quantrill.
Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki might miss his third straight contest because of a neck issue
--Field Level Media