The Tampa Bay Rays embark on another early season road trip that begins with a four-game series in Chicago against the White Sox on Thursday night. Alex Cobb shut down the improvised Yankees lineup on Wednesday night in St. Pete to earn his third victory of the season. Winning the series against New York was very important for the Rays because of the Yankees injury-hampered lineup.
The Rays (10-11) will hope to ride the momentum wave to Chicago to face the White Sox (8-12) best pitchers.
Sale Looks for Consistency
In 2012 Chris Sale had two very different starts against the Rays. On May 28th in St. Pete Sale set the Tropicana field strikeout record with 15 k’s en route to a 2-1 White Sox win. Sale’s final start of the season came against Tampa Bay at home on September 29th and the Rays roughed him up. Sale lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and five earned runs. In those two games Sale recorded 32 outs, 22 of which were strikeouts. Further number crunching leads to the theory of Sale being overused at a young age. In his last 11 starts dating back to last season the Southsiders’ southpaw is 3-6. In 2013 Sale has struggled by allowing 24 hits in 26 innings pitched and although he has struck out 23 batters he has allowed four homeruns and five doubles.
As a team the White Sox pitchers have been the opposite of the hitters and are keeping the team afloat. The Sox have the second lowest team ERA (3.26) and WHIP (1.18) in the American League and their bullpen has also pitched well.
Rays Pitchers Will Dominate
With Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and David Price all starting against Chicago the Rays should be able to win the series. Moore’s victory against the Yankees on Monday marked the first time that any Tampa Bay pitcher had won his first four starts of a season. Moore’s perfect record and 1.04 ERA makes him an early favorite for the Cy Young Award. David Price lost his start on Tuesday against the Yankees but it was by far his best performance of the season. The lefty lasted eight innings but was tagged with the loss after giving up the leadoff hit in the ninth.
White Sox Bats are Cold, Like the Weather
The Rays pitchers will be able to dominate because the White Sox offense has suffered from the loss of AJ Pierzynski and as a team they are ranked last in the American League in Runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, walks and OPS. Adam Dunn has been at the center of the White Sox struggles on offense and is hitting .100 with 28 strikeouts in 70 at-bats. The injuries to Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo have forced the Sox to play youngsters Connor Gillaspie and Blake Tekotte. Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios have led the offense and Rios’ two-run homer yesterday beat the Cleveland Indians and ended the White Sox four-game losing streak.
The Rays will look to keep their bats warm as the forecast calls for a low of 37 degrees tonight and the weekend calls for only slightly warmer temperatures. Look for the series to be low scoring and full of pitching duels. If the Rays can get on base look for them to challenge White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. So far this season the White Sox have allowed the third most steals against and are sorely missing Pierzynski on both offense and defense. The Rays are fourth in the league in steals with Desmond Jennings pacing the team with five steals.
Thursday- Jeremy Hellickson (TB) 1-1, 3.55 ERA vs. Chris Sale (CWS) 1-2, 4.50 ERA
Friday- Roberto Hernandez (TB) 1-3, 4.74 ERA vs. Jake Peavy (CWS) 2-1, 3.20 ERA
Saturday- Matt Moore (TB) 4-0, 1.04 ERA vs. Gavin Floyd (CWS) 0-3, 4.98 ERA
Sunday- David Price (TB) 0-2, 5.52 ERA vs. Dylan Axelrod (CWS) 0-1, 3.80 ERA