CHICAGO | Baseball is full of Sox killers, and Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn is cut from that cloth.
A 2001 Detroit draft choice, he murdered the Sox during his six-plus seasons as a part-time player with the Tigers. He’s even stepped it up in Cleveland, including the game-deciding two-run single Saturday.
Statistics compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau show Raburn may be first among equals as a Sox killer. He ranks second all-time with the highest percentage (26 percent) of runs driven in against one team for a player with at least 200 at-bats.
Raburn has 275 career RBIs with 72 against the Sox. Overall, he’s batted .301 with 17 homers and 18 doubles.
As a Yankees infielder, former AL president Bobby Brown knocked in 27 percent of his runs against the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles franchise.
“There’s really no rhyme nor reason,” Raburn said of his mastery of Chicago. “It’s one of those things. It’s a crazy game.”
Raburn is even better at U.S. Cellular Field where he’s batted .316 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs.
“I see the ball well at this place,” Raburn said. “I feel comfortable here.”
Bullpen good, bad is contagious: Matt Lindstrom and Scott Downs, the two most veteran Sox relievers, believe good and bad bullpen work is contagious just like hitting and defense.
The contagion is bad so far, almost negating the positive effect of a revived lineup and clubhouse spirit.
Sox relievers have allowed a run in 10 of 13 games so far. They’ve recorded four losses and four blown saves, allowed 29 earned runs in 34 innings (but two unearned runs Sunday) and issued 24 walks in the 12 games since Opening Day.
“I think it happens like that,” said Lindstrom, a seven-year relief veteran who was Marlins closer in 2009-10. “The main goal everyone’s trying to do down in the bullpen is pass the ball to the next guy and keep that line moving. Just like anything else with hitters and starting pitchers, we’re trying to make it competitive down there as far as helping each other get outs.
“Those hitters, they’re trying to keep that line moving, too, on the other side.”
Fifteen-year veteran Downs, a full-time reliever since 2007, also has seen momentum cut both ways.
“Situations come up and sometimes there’s a snowball effect,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. It’s not like what I’m doing is going to rub off on what (another reliever) is doing or what not. It’s more of a mental thing, just the way the game is going.
“It’s all confidence. A lot of mental energy.”
Big Hurt II one day?: There will be plenty of time for Sox first baseman Jose Abreu to be compared to incoming Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Abreu, who has not yet formally talked hitting with Thomas, has educated himself about the Big Hurt’s feats.
"We all know what he's done, we all know what he's accomplished," Abreu said. "For any player to be compared to a legend, someone as great as him, it'd be an incredible compliment."
Sox manager Robin Ventura, who played with Thomas for nearly a decade, is careful about any comparisons. Yet Ventura will say both hitters are similar in possessing great opposite-field power.