White Sox-Orioles Preview
The Baltimore Orioles are one of the only teams to figure out the Chicago White Sox so far. Doing the same against Chris Sale would be an accomplishment in its own right.
In order to win this four-game set in Baltimore on Sunday, the Orioles will have to hand the White Sox their first loss with Sale on the mound.
Chicago (17-8) has heightened expectations by building the AL's best record through April, and they skyrocket with Sale toeing the rubber.
"Every night we come out here we expect a no-hitter and it kind of stinks for him, but that's what we expect," Adam Eaton said.
Sale (5-0, 1.66 ERA) became the 10th White Sox pitcher to win his first five starts since 1913 by holding opposing hitters to a .159 batting average in the season's opening month. The left-hander has surrendered just eight hits and one earned run in 24 innings over his last three outings, and he leads the majors with a 0.68 WHIP.
Baltimore (14-9) has already beaten up on two White Sox lefties with a 10-2 rout versus John Danks in Thursday's opener and Friday's 6-3 win over Carlos Rodon, but a repeat performance against Sale seems far-fetched.
He can become the first White Sox pitcher to win his opening six starts since Jon Garland was victorious in his first eight of 2005. Six of the 10 Chicago pitchers to open 5-0 won their sixth start.
Sale's success seems a bit different than in past seasons when he powered past opposing lineups - a prime example his 12-strikeout four-hitter in 7 2/3 innings of a 3-2 win in Baltimore last May. He set a Chicago record with 274 strikeouts in 2015, but drawing more early has allowed him to pitch at least seven innings in each start.
J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo have combined for a .364 batting average with one home run apiece in their careers against Sale, who has a 3.42 ERA in four starts against the Orioles. However, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters are 2 for 19 with six strikeouts in the matchup.
Chicago snapped a three-game skid in this series by rallying for Saturday's 8-7 victory - just the Orioles' second loss in 11 games at Camden Yards.
The White Sox, who are 11-5 on the road, trailed 5-4 entering the eighth, but Todd Frazier launched a two-run homer before Jose Abreau's go-ahead single in the ninth.
"We're going to have challenges during the year," manager Buck Showalter said. "Something happens, we'll deal with it and our club knows that. We had a lot of good things happen (Saturday night)."
Ubaldo Jimenez will try to lift Baltimore to its fourth win in five games while handing Chicago its second series loss.
Jimenez (1-2, 3.91) has battled command issues his last three starts, walking 11 in 16 innings on the way to a 5.06 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in that span.
The 32-year-old right-hander has a 4.17 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 12 career starts against the White Sox, though he gave up just one earned run in 14 innings between two outings against them last season.
The White Sox will likely miss out on a prime matchup with Avisail Garcia expected to miss his second straight game due to a strained right hamstring. Garcia went 8 for 18 with a double, triple, home run and four RBIs in the first five games of Chicago's seven-game trip, and he is 7 for 13 lifetime against Jimenez.
Abreu's two hits in nine at-bats versus the veteran hurler were solo home runs, and Brett Lawrie and Alex Avila have also gone deep against him.