After facing some stingy starting pitching over the weekend, the Baltimore Orioles may not have it any easier as their road trip hits Chicago on Monday night.
Baltimore plays its first of six straight in the Windy City when it faces White Sox starter Chris Sale on the South Side.
The Orioles (70-52) have a comfortable seven-game lead on the New York Yankees and 7 1/2-game edge on Toronto atop the AL East, but Cleveland starters held them to three runs over 19 2-3 innings to help the Indians take two of three this past weekend.
Baltimore was held without a run through five Sunday before J.J. Hardy hit an RBI single and Chris Davis added a run-scoring single later in the inning. Steve Pearce and Jonathan Schoop chipped in solo homers en route to a 4-1 win that prevented a sweep.
"It’s been a rough couple of days, but those things are going to happen," Pearce said. "It was only a matter of time. We put together some good at-bats and grinded it out."
The Orioles scored only five times in the series, and their lineup could find it just as difficult to score this week. After facing Sale (10-2, 2.01 ERA), Baltimore will go up against Jose Quintana (3.14 ERA) on Tuesday before Wednesday’s series finale.
It will then finish a nine-game trip with three at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, who are scheduled to pitch Jake Arrieta in Friday’s opener and surging rookie Kyle Hendricks on Saturday.
Sale gave up four hits and struck out a season high-tying 12 through eight scoreless innings Tuesday at San Francisco, but reliever Jake Petricka blew his third save before the White Sox won 3-2 in 10.
"Anytime you leave a game like that you want to win, but we ended up winning," said Sale, who didn’t get a decision for the fourth time this season when leaving with a lead. "It’s not who gets it, it’s how we get it."
The left-hander allowed two runs and a season-worst 11 hits through six innings at Baltimore on June 23 but left with a 4-2 lead. The bullpen surrendered the advantage, though, including Davis’ three-run walkoff homer in Chicago’s 6-4 loss.
Sale has never started against the Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field. He went 7-1 with a 1.90 ERA in his first 10 home starts this season, but he’s allowed seven runs over 12 innings while going 0-1 in his last two.
The White Sox (59-65) took two of three from the Blue Jays at home over the weekend, scoring 21 runs in the series after winning 7-5 on Sunday. Conor Gillaspie hit his first career grand slam in a six-run first capped by Jordan Danks’ two-run homer.
Chicago looks to continue its offensive surge against Bud Norris, who won his last two starts despite not being very sharp.
Norris (10-7, 3.75) gave up two runs and seven hits while walking two in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-3 win over Toronto on Aug. 5, then needed 62 pitches to get through the first two of his five innings of three-run ball in last Monday’s 11-3 victory over the New York Yankees.
The right-hander’s 108 pitches marked the 12th time in 20 starts he’s reached at least 100, while he’s tossed 99 on two other occasions. He’s also pitched fewer than six innings nine times.
Norris was roughed up the last time he faced the White Sox, allowing four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 4-2 defeat Sept. 8.