White Sox-Rays Preview
A loss to the Chicago White Sox earlier this month dropped the
defending AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays to 0-6 for the first time
in franchise history.
Another victory over the White Sox can put the Rays over .500
for the first time this season.
Tampa Bay goes for its first four-game sweep of Chicago on
Thursday night when the visiting White Sox try to avoid their
eighth straight defeat.
Since a 5-1 loss at Chicago (7-11) on April 7, the Rays (9-9)
have won nine of 12 to join the 1991 Seattle Mariners as the only
teams since 1900 to reach .500 in April after opening the season
with six losses.
“The fact that we’re back to that level is great, but our goal
is well above .500,” manager Joe Maddon said following Wednesday’s
While Tampa Bay is batting .297 and scoring 5.0 runs per game
during its 8-1 stretch – up from .163 and 2.2 during its first nine
games – the team’s starters are 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA during this
recent run, a vast improvement from their 5.26 ERA through nine
Jeff Niemann (0-2, 6.32 ERA), who starts the series finale, also
pitched better in his last start. After allowing 10 runs in his
first two outings, the right-hander struck out a season-high six in
Saturday’s 4-3 win over Minnesota, giving up three runs and eight
hits in seven innings.
“I was more comfortable in what I was seeing,” Maddon told the
Rays’ official website.
That wasn’t the case in a 6-1 loss in Chicago on April 10 when
Niemann lasted just 2 2-3 innings, yielding five runs and five
He had been 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his previous two starts
against the White Sox.
Niemann faces a Chicago team that has scored 13 runs during its
seven-game skid, including just two in the first three games of
this series. Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn
are hitting a combined .129 (13 for 101) during the slide.
“We had better at-bats (Wednesday),” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
“That’s all you can do. Go and fight for your at-bats, and see what
While the White Sox’s bullpen has received plenty of blame with
a major league-high six blown saves, the starting rotation is also
struggling, posting a 5.57 ERA in the last five games after Phil
Humber surrendered four runs in 5 1-3 innings Wednesday.
Gavin Floyd (1-1, 4.29) will try to help Chicago avoid its first
eight-game skid since Sept. 14-21 and split the eight-game season
series with Tampa Bay. The right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 2.48
ERA against the Rays after striking out eight and allowing one
unearned run in eight innings April 10.
Floyd, though, gave up season highs with six runs and eight hits
in Saturday’s 7-2 loss against the Los Angeles Angels. He also
threw three wild pitches in six innings.
Floyd probably wouldn’t mind if Rays left fielder Johnny Damon
misses a fourth straight game with an injured left ring finger.
Damon is 11 for 19 with a homer off Floyd.
White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin, 1 for 9 off Niemann, is
batting .438 (14 for 32) on the road after homering Wednesday.