SEATTLE — Chris Sale will make his first start in six days when the Chicago White Sox face the Seattle Mariners on Monday. This time, Sale will not be representing the White Sox, not the American League.
The All-Star Game starter will be back on the mound to open the Seattle series, and the White Sox are going to need his A game if their offense continues to struggle like it did during the weekend sweep in Anaheim. Chicago (45-46) scored just one run in the series.
The White Sox might find company in Seattle's misery this week. The Mariners (46-46) scored just two runs over the final two games of the Houston series, and they have pretty much played their way out of contention in the American League West after a promising first two months of the season.
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“Five runs in three games, that's not going to get it done,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after Sunday's 8-1 loss to Houston. “We've got to do better than that.”
Seattle's offense is only part of the problem as the Mariners' pitching rotation continues to battle injuries. Scheduled Monday starter Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 3.52 ERA) has done his part to fill in, but he is coming off a rough outing his last time out. A converted reliever who pitched in Japan last year and was with Toronto's Triple-A affiliate before the desperate Mariners acquired him in June, LeBlanc will be making his fourth start with Seattle.
The Mariners could help him by playing better defense than they did on Sunday, when Seattle committed a season-high four errors in what Servais called the “worst game we played all year.”
Third baseman Kyle Seager, who had two errors and now has nine since June 2, added, “It definitely wasn't a good day.”
If the Mariners are going to reverse their fortunes and get back into the wild-card race, they'll have to start by scoring some runs on one of the game's best pitchers. Sale is having a typical season, but he is coming off his worst start of the season. The Atlanta Braves hit three home runs off Sale in a July 8 win over the White Sox, during which he allowed eight runs off 10 hits.
“Pretty embarrassing,” Sale said after that performance, according to MLB.com. “It's about as bad as I possibly think in a while.”