Rays-White Sox Preview
The Tampa Bay Rays have maintained their playoff hopes while putting a dent in Chicago's by adding to the White Sox's recent home woes.
The Rays will try to give themselves another boost by completing their first season sweep of the White Sox and first in a road series Wednesday.
Tampa Bay (54-54) is two games behind Toronto for the AL's second wild card after winning three in a row - the past two in Chicago - and only two teams stand between the Rays and Blue Jays.
Richie Shaffer hit his first major league homer and Tampa Bay had a season-best four in an 11-3 rout Tuesday, with two off All-Star Chris Sale.
"It was a great night all around. To have these offensive outbursts really help our team because we don't have them very often," center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said. "It lets us know that we can perform at a high level."
Tampa Bay will try to keep rolling in another matchup against a team that's been outscored 51-26 while losing five of six. The White Sox (50-55) won their previous seven - all on the road - to move within 2 1/2 games of a playoff spot, but are now 4 1/2 back with five teams in between them and Toronto.
The White Sox have lost eight of their last nine at home, and Carlos Rodon (4-4, 4.84 ERA) has typified their recent struggles on the South Side. The rookie left-hander, who has a major league-worst 6.57 walks per nine innings at home, has allowed a combined 15 runs in seven innings in his past two games there and gave up a career-worst eight in three innings in a 13-6 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday.
"Just got to be better," Rodon said after losing a third consecutive start at home. "That's about it."
Rodon will make his first appearance against the Rays while Erasmo Ramirez (8-4, 3.61) will try to finish off the sweep and continue his recent road dominance. Tampa Bay took its three home games against Chicago from June 12-14, and its five-game win streak matches its longest in the series.
The Rays have already clinched their best record in a season series, surpassing their 5-2 mark from 2013.
Ramirez, who will be pitching in Chicago for the first time, is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA in his last seven road starts. He was pulled after tossing 4 1-3 scoreless innings in his lone start against the White Sox on Aug. 10 with Seattle.
The right-hander has been charged with nine runs in his last two starts after going 6-1 with a 1.29 ERA in his prior nine. Three of the four Ramirez yielded Friday, though, were unearned in a 7-5 loss in Boston. The right-hander didn't get a decision and is winless in his last three outings.
With J.B. Shuck and Emilio Bonifacio on the disabled list, no current White Sox player has gotten a hit off Ramirez. Jose Abreu, Gordon Beckham, Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez are a combined 0 for 8.