White Sox-Rays Preview
While Tampa Bay's Matt Moore was able to recover from a rough three-week stretch, Chicago's Chris Sale hopes a new month is what it will take to end his current drought.
After going 8-0 with a 2.99 ERA in his first nine starts, Moore (11-3, 3.65 ERA) went 0-3 with a 9.31 ERA in the next five. Since then, the left-hander has allowed four runs and overcome 12 walks by striking out 24 in 19 1-3 innings to win three straight.
He gave up two hits and fanned nine in seven innings of a 12-0 victory at Houston on Monday.
"He's going to continue to get better,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "That's his 11th win right there and we're still talking about the little foibles that he may have.
"But to his credit he knows that and he knows that there's room for improvement, and because he does he's going to continue to get better.''
Moore improved to 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA against the White Sox (34-49) after he allowed a solo homer to Adam Dunn and two other hits while striking out nine in six innings of a 10-4 victory April 27.
Moore went 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA last season when he squared off both times against Sale (5-7, 2.79), who is 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA as a starter versus Tampa Bay (47-40). Sale allowed two runs, four hits and walked four but struck out seven in seven innings of a 5-2 win over the Rays on April 25.
That victory began a five-start stretch where Sale went 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA. However, after the left-hander missed his next scheduled start May 21 because of shoulder tendinitis, the calendar turned to June, where he went 0-5 with a 3.19 ERA in six outings.
His teammates have totaled 12 runs in those starts, and managed six singles Sunday when Sale gave up three runs and struck out 10 in eight innings of a 4-0 loss to Cleveland.
"Just another tough one,'' he said. "Just got to keep your head up, keep plugging along."
Chicago showed little fight while losing for the 25th time in 35 games, 8-3 at Tampa Bay on Friday. Desmond Jennings had three hits and James Loney added two with an RBI for the Rays, who have outscored their opponents 58-28 while winning nine of 12.
"As a team we're doing a really good job of getting better at-bats and that's huge to make sure that the team keeps hitting the way we're doing right now,'' Rays catcher Jose Molina said.
Loney is batting .406 during his 16-game hitting streak, while Jennings has hit the same over his last seven.
Jennings, however, is 1 for 6 with three strikeouts versus Sale.
Despite Chicago's struggles, second baseman Gordon Beckham has batted .390 with seven RBIs in his last 11 contests.