The Tampa Bay Rays will go for their first sweep of the season when they wrap up a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Tampa Bay (3-8) has bounced back from a miserable eight-game skid with a pair of road wins against Chicago. The Rays posted a 5-4 victory in Monday’s series opener and held on for a 6-5 victory on Tuesday in spite of another white-knuckle performance from embattled closer Alex Colome.
For the series finale, the Rays could welcome back a key hitter. Kevin Kiermaier has missed the last two games because of a bone bruise in his right foot, but he is hopeful to be back in the lineup Wednesday. He was able to put pressure on his foot Tuesday but remained out of the lineup as a precaution.
“Over the last 24 hours, I’m a lot happier,” Kiermaier said to the Tampa Bay Times.
The same cannot be said for Chicago (3-7), which is mired in a five-game losing streak and needs a win to avoid back-to-back sweeps at home. The White Sox are 0-5 at home to start the season for the first time since 1975.
Chicago’s last three losses have been decided by one run apiece. The White Sox rallied with four runs in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday, but Omar Narvaez lined out to right field with the tying run on base.
In the past four games, Chicago has left 36 runners on base.
“I feel like we are in every game,” White Sox outfielder Nicky Delmonico said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s just that one hit or that one (at-bat) that can change the game.”
White Sox right-hander James Shields (1-0, 5.73 ERA) is scheduled to make his third start of the season, two of which have come at home. Shields allowed four runs in six innings in his season debut at the Kansas City Royals, and he gave up three runs in five innings in start No. 2 against the Detroit Tigers.
In each of his first two starts, Shields has pitched to contact. He has only one strikeout in 11 innings, but he also has avoided command issues with only two walks.
At 36 years old, Shields’ next victory will be the 140th of his career. Eighty-seven of those wins happened with Tampa Bay, where he shined from 2006-12 and helped lead the team to a World Series appearance in 2008.
In three career starts against the Rays, Shields is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA. He has allowed three runs in 20 innings while walking four and striking out 23.
Tampa Bay will rely on a bullpen day with several relievers scheduled to share the load. Rookie right-hander Yonny Chirinos (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will open the game for his second career start. The 24-year-old has not allowed a run in nine innings this season and never has faced Chicago.
White Sox catcher Welington Castillo left Tuesday’s game with right knee soreness. His status is day-to-day. Narvaez likely will start behind the plate if Castillo is unable to go.