Rays-White Sox Preview
The Chicago White Sox are showing signs of life after a rough two-week stretch.
They have to like their chances of keeping things going if Adam Dunn can get hot.
Dunn and the White Sox go for a season-best third consecutive win Friday night as they continue a four-game set against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.
Chicago (9-12), which had lost four straight and 10 of 13 before beating Cleveland 3-2 on Wednesday, saw its momentum carry over the following night in a 5-2 series-opening victory. The White Sox backed Chris Sale with three runs in the first inning before Dunn added some insurance with a two-run homer in the sixth.
Dunn entered Thursday mired in a 1-for-38 slump and has collected just eight hits in 74 at-bats this season (.108). Half of them, though, have left the yard.
"It's hard to sit here and tell everybody you feel good and the results aren't there, but I do feel good. I have felt good for the most part of the season," said Dunn, who led the team with 41 homers in 2012. "Obviously the results aren't where I want them."
The White Sox improved to 29-12 since the start of last season when Dunn goes deep.
Tampa Bay (10-12), meanwhile, dropped to 2-8 on the road, where it is batting a major league-worst .193. Desmond Jennings, Ryan Roberts and Ben Zobrist - the team's 1-2-3 hitters Thursday - went a combined 0 for 10.
Zobrist is hitting .143 on the road and Roberts .105.
The Rays could have a hard time bouncing back against Jake Peavy (2-1, 3.20 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA over two home starts. The right-hander walked four but was otherwise on his game Saturday in a 2-1, 10-inning loss to Minnesota, allowing one run while striking out nine over seven innings.
"Peavy as advertised. We know he's always tough," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He seems to ad-lib and kind of figure things out as he's going along during a game. He can come from so many angles and throw so many pitches."
Peavy has mixed results over four career starts against the Rays, going 2-1 with a 5.25 ERA. While Evan Longoria and Kelly Johnson are a combined 2 for 19 against Peavy, Zobrist is 4 for 7 with a homer and two doubles.
The Rays counter with Roberto Hernandez (1-3, 4.74). The right-hander had allowed a combined 15 runs in losing his first three starts before surrendering three hits and striking out seven over six innings of one-run ball Sunday in an 8-1 victory over Oakland.
"Good for him, man," manager Joe Maddon said. "I really think that's something for him to build off of. I'm sure the confidence needed a booster, and that's a booster shot right there."
Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez's win was his first since beating the White Sox on Sept. 20, 2011, while with Cleveland.
"Wow! A long time," he said.
Hernandez is 9-2 despite a shaky 4.85 ERA over his last 12 starts versus Chicago. Dunn has seven hits in his last 14 at-bats against him with three doubles and a homer, and Konerko is 8 for 22 lifetime with two home runs.
While Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger, who spent last season with Tampa Bay, has three straight two-hit games and is batting .464 against the Rays - by far his highest mark against any opponent.
Tampa Bay's Yunel Escobar is unlikely to be available after sitting out Thursday with a tight right hamstring. The struggling shortstop is hitting .164.