White Sox-Mariners Preview

Chicago’s Paul Konerko is off to a strong start, but the White

Sox are struggling a bit.

Facing the Seattle Mariners should expedite the first baseman’s

hot hitting and help his team get out of its funk.

Konerko and the White Sox look to continue their dominance over

the Mariners in Friday’s series opener at Safeco Field.

Chicago (6-6) arrives in Seattle after striking out a

season-high 16 times in Thursday’s 5-3 loss to Baltimore, its

fourth defeat in five games. Swinging and missing with two strikes

has been an ongoing problem for the White Sox, who are tied for the

AL lead with 111 strikeouts.

“Some of them you can put it down as maybe not having the right

approach,” manager Robin Ventura said of the strikeouts. “Some of

them are just good pitches. It’s going to happen. You just try to

learn from it and work on it and cut those down.”

Seattle’s pitching staff has struck out 109 – second-most in the

AL – and scheduled starter Hector Noesi (1-1, 5.73 ERA) had six in

his last outing.

Chicago, however, probably isn’t too intimidated considering its

recent history in the Pacific Northwest.

The White Sox are 16-3 against the Mariners since 2010, their

best record against any AL opponent. They’ve won seven of nine in

Seattle and outscored the Mariners 27-7 in winning the last five at

Safeco Field.

Konerko has been instrumental to this success.

Since 2010, Konerko is batting .420 with nine homers, five

doubles and 14 RBIs with a 1.372 OPS against the Mariners. His home

run total is his most against any opponent despite playing the

Mariners nearly half as many times as AL Central rivals.

The five-time All-Star has hit safely in all but one game this

season, batting .370 with one homer, five doubles and nine


Konerko and his teammates aren’t too familiar with Noesi, who

pitched an inning of relief in his lone outing against the White

Sox last August. The right-hander did serve up a homer to Adam

Dunn, who leads the majors with 21 strikeouts.

Noesi was knocked around for seven runs in three innings of an

11-5 loss to Texas on April 9, but looked strong against Oakland on

Saturday, scattering five hits and one walk in eight innings of a

4-0 win.

The Mariners (7-7) have split their four games since and are

coming off a discouraging defeat. Felix Hernandez struck out 12

over eight innings and left with his team leading 1-0, but closer

Brandon League couldn’t save it and Seattle lost 2-1.

Ichiro Suzuki struggles at the plate continued – he was hitless

in four at-bats and is hitting .171 in his last nine games. He’ll

try to get things turned around against Chris Sale (1-1, 3.09).

Sale allowed three runs and five hits in five innings in

Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Detroit. The converted reliever struck out

five and walked two while throwing a career-high 102 pitches

“I kind of babied it at times,” he said. “I just have to get the

confidence to throw the pitch I need to throw and not worry about

where it is.”

The left-hander made two relief appearances against the Mariners

last season, allowing two hits in 2 1-3 scoreless innings.