CHICAGO — Left-hander Drew Smyly will try to extend his unbeaten streak to 12 starts when the Tampa Bay Rays go on the road to open a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Smyly, 27, owns the Rays' longest streak without a loss since right-hander Alex Cobb had an 11-start stretch in 2014. Smyly (7-11, 4.86 ERA) is 5-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 11 starts since July 23. During that span, he has walked 19 and struck out 51 in 65 innings.
Individual achievements are the most relevant storylines remaining as the Rays (65-90) and White Sox (74-81) prepare for a long offseason with no hope of reaching the playoffs.
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The White Sox won back-to-back games over the Indians on Saturday and Sunday in Cleveland after losing their previous six games in a row.
Chicago has enjoyed success at home this season. Manager Robin Ventura's club is 41-33 at home and just 33-48 on the road.
Ventura said he has no problem with his players chasing statistical milestones as the season neared its end. Todd Frazier has 39 home runs and 96 RBIs. Jose Abreu is hitting .297 with 97 RBIs, putting him well within reach of finishing the season with a .300-plus average and 100-plus RBIs.
“We know where we're at,” Ventura said. “But there's still guys going out there that have a lot of pride. … You have some things to play for. There are still important, I don't know if they are milestones, but there are numbers guys want to get to.
“They are going out and doing it in a professional way. It's not greedy. It's just going out and playing hard, and at the end of the year, you hope your numbers are where they are at.”
White Sox right-hander James Shields will try to avoid another meltdown in a season that has been filled with them. The 34-year-old is 5-18 with a 5.98 ERA overall this season, and he is 0-6 with a 9.46 ERA in his past 10 starts. Since joining Chicago in a June trade with the San Diego Padres, he is 3-11 with a 7.11 ERA in 20 starts.
Shields will face the team that gave him his first opportunity in the big leagues. He went 87-73 with a 3.89 ERA in seven seasons with the Rays from 2006 through 2012.
Against the Rays, Shields is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two career starts. He has walked two and struck out 17.
The Rays slipped to a season-worst 25 games under .500 after a 3-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon. Rays hitters struck out a franchise-record 23 times.
Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left the Sunday game due to a bruised left hand. His status is uncertain for the series opener.
“Got some treatment on it and hopefully (I will) be ready to go tomorrow,” Kiermaier told MLB.com on Sunday. “Hopefully the inflammation and swelling goes down and I'm good to go.”
Smyly is 0-0 with a 4.73 ERA in 11 career appearances (four starts) against the White Sox. He has not faced Chicago since 2014.