White Sox-Athletics Preview

Most figured for the Chicago White Sox to be competitive in

2012, they would need Adam Dunn and Alex Rios to rebound from

incredibly awful seasons.

So far, the two have been up to the challenge.

Dunn and Rios look to continue their hot hitting and lead the

visiting White Sox to a fifth straight victory Tuesday night

against the struggling Oakland Athletics.

Chicago (10-6) finished in third place in the AL Central last

season, 16 games back of division-leading Detroit, as its offense

failed to live up to expectations. Dunn was at the center of the

offensive woes, batting .159 with career lows of 11 homers and 42

RBIs, while Rios wasn’t much better, hitting .227 with 13 home runs

and 44 RBIs.

While those two were major holes in the lineup a year ago,

they’re off to strong starts for a White Sox team that is tied with

the Tigers atop the Central.

Dunn hit his fourth homer in Monday’s 4-0 win over the A’s, and

is batting .381 with three home runs, three doubles, 11 RBIs and a

.536 on-base percentage in his last six games. He didn’t hit his

fifth homer last season until May 24.

Rios is also locked in at the plate, recording his second

straight three-hit game Monday. He is batting .415 with three

doubles and six RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak.

In spite of Dunn’s strong start, he is still having loads of

trouble facing left-handed pitchers, batting .056 with 10

strikeouts in 18 at-bats – numbers that could lead to problems

against Tommy Milone (2-1, 2.84 ERA).

Chicago counters with Gavin Floyd (1-2, 4.58), who hopes to

bounce back from another shaky outing.

Floyd gave up five runs, six hits and three walks while striking

out seven over six innings in Thursday’s 5-3 loss to Baltimore. The

right-hander, who failed to last more than six innings in any of

his first three starts, hit one Oriole after plunking three batters

in his previous outing.

He is now set to face an Oakland offense having several problems

of its own.

The A’s (8-10) managed just three hits against Jake Peavy on

Monday in losing for the fourth time in five games. They’re last in

the AL with 52 runs, are hitting a league-low .205 and have been

held to one run or fewer seven times. Catcher Kurt Suzuki is in the

middle of this mess batting .186, while Coco Crisp, who returned to

the lineup Monday after missing five games with the flu, is hitting

.167.

“We’re on and off, on and off,” said leadoff hitter Jemile

Weeks, who is batting .200. “If we can get some back-to-back

(offensive) days going, I think we’ll be more fluent in our

offense.”

The A’s also had one of the AL’s worst offenses last season, but

still managed to give Floyd trouble.

In his lone start of 2011 against Oakland, Floyd allowed five

runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss May 14. He was

3-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his first six career outings versus the

A’s.

Milone continued his impressive start Thursday against Los

Angeles, yielding two runs and seven hits in five innings of a 4-2

win. The left-hander struck out three and walked one.

This will be Milone’s fourth start of the season after appearing

in five games last year for Washington before coming over as part

of the Gio Gonzalez trade.