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
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
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.