Marlins-White Sox Preview
Despite lackluster offense and some spotty defense, the Chicago White Sox are in position to reach .500 for the first time since the second week of the season.
They can do so by completing a three-game home sweep of the lowly Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Chicago (23-24) ranks near the bottom of the major leagues with 172 runs and a .241 batting average, and is tied for the AL lead with 33 errors. The rotation has been the difference, as the starters have gone at least six innings nine times and posted a 3.12 ERA in helping the White Sox win eight of 11.
Jake Peavy gave up a tying home run to infielder Derek Dietrich in the ninth Saturday, but Conor Gillaspie delivered a single in the bottom of the inning that gave Chicago a 2-1 win.
"Baseball is such a funny game because everybody feeds off each other,'' said Gillaspie, 5 for 8 in this series. "Everybody's excited. You can feel it in the clubhouse.''
Though Chicago has scored 11 runs in four games, it's won three and can move to .500 for the first time since it was 4-4 on April 10.
Hosting a Miami team that's dropped 14 of 17 has certainly helped the White Sox move closer to the break-even mark. Last in the majors with 129 runs and a .221 average, the Marlins (13-36) have scored seven times during their current four-game skid.
Putting up runs could again prove to be a challenge Sunday against Chicago's Dylan Axelrod (2-3, 4.13 ERA), who looks to win his third straight start. He allowed two runs - both on a homer - and three other hits in six innings of a 6-4 victory over Boston on Monday.
Axelrod has given up three or fewer runs in seven of his nine starts.
"Axe is one of those guys that, again he doesn't light up the radar screen, but he knows how to pitch and get through a lineup," manager Robin Ventura said.
The right-hander has never faced Miami, which lost 4-3 in 11 innings Friday.
''At the end of the day, we can't score any runs,'' Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. ''We have to be perfect. Pitch perfect every night.''
Miami has posted a 2.96 ERA in the past three games.
Alex Sanabia (3-6, 4.56) turned in a strong effort to snap his five-start losing streak Monday, allowing a homer in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia.
The win came amidst controversy, however, as the right-hander was caught by television cameras spitting on the ball in the second inning. Neither Sanabia or Redmond said they have been contacted by the league about the incident.
"I don't know what they expect from spitting on it,'' Sanabia said. "My intention wasn't to be like `Let's get more movement.' My intention was I need more grip.''
He is 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA on the road since throwing six scoreless innings in a 7-5 victory at Citi Field on April 5.
Dietrich is batting .250, but has reached base in all 14 games since making his major league debut May 8. He's hit two of his three home runs in this set.