White Sox-Orioles Preview
The two playoff hopefuls open a four-game series Monday night at Camden Yards.
Baltimore has won 17 of 25 for the majors' second-best record since July 29 and is tied for the second AL wild-card spot. The Orioles (69-57) won their first two games against last-place Toronto this weekend before Sunday's finale was postponed because of weather.
Chicago (71-55) figures to pose a far more difficult challenge as it enters this series after a 6-0 homestand to maintain a 2 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the Central. The White Sox completed a three-game sweep of Seattle with a 4-3 win Sunday after the game was called due to rain in the seventh.
"Mother Nature is looking at us and giving us the blessing," reliever Hector Santiago told the White Sox's official website. "Snake a win right there ... get out of here and go on the road trip."
Tyler Flowers hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh, Chicago's 32nd in the last 16 games. The White Sox lead the majors with 43 homers this month.
After losing 11 of 14 at home, the Orioles have won 10 of 13 there. They've averaged 5.5 runs and hit 22 homers during that stretch.
Right fielder Nick Markakis had two hits and two runs in Saturday's 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays, and is hitting .419 (13 for 31) in his last eight games.
Center fielder Adam Jones had two RBIs in that contest but hasn't homered in his last 104 at-bats, four shy of matching the longest drought of his career set in 2008. Jones, though, is 4 for 12 with three homers lifetime against scheduled White Sox starter Francisco Liriano.
Looking to bolster an inconsistent rotation, Baltimore acquired starter Joe Saunders from Arizona on Sunday in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later. Saunders is 6-10 with a 4.22 ERA this year.
"I like our ballclub's chances,'' said Dan Duquette, the Orioles vice president of baseball operations. "There's an old saying: If you're going in the right direction, keep walking. So the addition of Joe Saunders gives us a chance to keep walking in the right direction."
Baltimore sends it most consistent starter to the mound in the series opener in Wei-Yin Chen (12-7, 3.87 ERA). The left-hander won his second straight start despite allowing five runs and seven hits over five innings as the Orioles rallied for a 7-5 win at Detroit on Aug. 19.
Chen limited the White Sox to two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory on April 17.
Also looking to win a third consecutive start will be Liriano (5-10, 5.12), who has pitched very well in four of his five starts since joining the White Sox. He gave up two runs and six hits over six innings of a 7-3 win over the Yankees on Tuesday.
Liriano is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against Baltimore this season.