White Sox-Orioles Preview
The Baltimore Orioles were struggling and in danger of dropping out of the wild-card race.
Then the reeling Chicago White Sox came to town.
With their power surge showing no signs of slowing down, the Orioles seek their first three-game win streak in a month Saturday against the White Sox, losers of eight straight.
After losing six of nine on a trip to Boston, New York and Cleveland, the Orioles couldn't have been happier to see the White Sox (56-84) for four games. They rode three solo homers and Miguel Gonzalez's stellar start to a 3-1 victory Thursday and backed Scott Feldman's first career shutout - the team's first complete game of the season - with three more solo shots in a 4-0 win Friday.
Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 48th homer and Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia also went deep for the Orioles (75-65), giving them 13 home runs in six games and raising baseball's highest total to 191. They scored 15 consecutive runs on homers before Valencia's RBI single in the fifth.
''I think it's just a combination of guys feeling a little bit of urgency and being aggressive in the right spots,'' Davis said. ''Nobody's going up there expecting to hit home runs or trying to hit home runs. I think the biggest thing is trying to get a pitch to drive and letting the bat kind of take over."
Davis finished with three hits, matching his total from the previous 24 at-bats.
Baltimore, which last won three straight Aug. 6-9, is one of four teams chasing Tampa Bay for the final wild-card spot.
The White Sox are winless on their 10-game trip and an AL-worst 24-50 on the road. They have scored 22 runs and batted .206 during the slide.
''I don't think they're pressing,'' manager Robin Ventura said. ''It's just the way it is. I don't know what there is to press for.''
Facing Chicago's listless offense presents the perfect opportunity for Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.87 ERA) to get back on track.
The left-hander has a 12.91 ERA in his last two starts and has walked eight over 7 2-3 innings during that span. He walked a career-high five and allowed three runs and four hits in four innings Sunday at Yankee Stadium but escaped without a decision as the Orioles rallied for a 7-3 win.
"Even though I've had the two bad starts, I still have the confidence in me," Chen told the team's official website through his interpreter. "Next time, I believe I will bounce back, and we'll see."
Chen went 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts last season against Chicago.
The White Sox counter with Hector Santiago (4-8, 3.43), who also had control problems his last time out.
He matched a career high with five walks and threw 101 pitches despite lasting only 3 2-3 innings in a 4-3 loss at Boston on Aug. 30.
''I felt fine,'' Santiago said. ''It's just one of those days you go out and stink. If you can't throw strikes, you can't succeed.''
The lefty was far more effective in his first career start against the Orioles on July 3, yielding two runs and five hits over seven innings before leaving without a decision in a 4-2 victory.