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Indians Vs. White Sox: Cleveland Can Pad AL Central Lead

Cleveland is in first place in the AL Central. And while it's still early -- Cleveland was first last year, as well -- the Indians could solidify their position as contenders in the division this week when they play the second-place White Sox.

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 25: Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field on April 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 25: Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field on April 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Getty Images

It's not 2011 again, but it's still good enough for first place.

Last season the Cleveland Indians were 13-7 after 20 games and were sitting atop the AL Central.

The Indians, 11-9, are again first place in the AL Central, and they can extend their lead over the second-place Chicago White Sox in this week's three-game series in Chicago.

The Sox, 11-11, are tied with the Detroit Tigers for second.

Ubaldo Jimenez will start Tuesday's series opener for the Tribe. On the season Jimenez, 2-1, has 14 walks and 13 strikeouts to go with a 4.50 ERA. But he may need to do better than that if the Cleveland's bats stay asleep: The Indians have 16 runs over their last six games.

The Sox, meanwhile, will start Chris Sale, who is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA. In Sale's only meeting with the Indians this season back on April 9, he pitched 6.2 innings and gave up just one earned run. The third-year player and first-year starter has 26 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Tuesday's game starts at 8:10 ET.

For more on the Cleveland Indians, check out Let's Go Tribe. You can also head over to SB Nation's main MLB hub at Baseball Nation.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.