The White Sox and Cubs renew the crosstown rivalry this weekend at Wrigley Field. Is it unfair that the Cubs pull the weekend series which is sure to sellout, while the White Sox were stuck with a mid-week draw in which none of the games sold out?
Probably, but I digress.
The White Sox are 40-42, good for third place in the A.L. Central, four games back of the division-leading Detroit Tigers, who lead the Cleveland Indians (who just won’t go away) by a half game. The White Sox have won two straight and seven of 11.
The Cubbies have also won two straight – both walkoffs against the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Aramis Ramirez had a pinch-hit walkoff single in the ninth inning on Wednesday and a game-tying solo shot Thursday to send it to extras. Geovany Soto hit a three-run bomb to give the Cubs a 5-2 win in 13 innings.
The Cubs are still in fifth place in the N.L. Central at 34-48, 10 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Rain is in the forecast all weekend so we may end up seeing a doubleheader along the way at some point.
The White Sox send Edwin “Velo” Jackson (4-6, 4.13 ERA) to the hill Friday against Randy Wells (1-2, 6.25).
Velo was flawless in his last outing, tossing seven scoreless against a hot Washington Nationals team. He didn’t get the win, of course, as the bullpen allowed three runs over the final two innings to send it into overtime, the Sox losing 9-5 in 14 innings. He struck out eight and walked a pair.
He’s pitched at Wrigley Field once in his career, yielding eight runs on 11 hits over four innings. That outing came last year with Arizona.
Kansas City knocked around Wells his last time out, to the tune of six runs on 10 hits over six innings. Wells has yet to match his first outing of the year when he allowed just one run over six innings. He went on the DL for almost two months after the start and hasn’t regained any semblance of consistency since returning.
Phil Humber (7-4, 2.89) and Matt Garza (4-7, 4.06) are headlining on Saturday. Humber has been fantastic this year – there’s not much more to say about him. As long as he keeps the ball down like he has been, he can have great success at the Friendly Confines.
Garza was pitching well against the White Sox before the June 21 game was delayed by rain. He allowed two runs on four hits over five innings. The White Sox ended up winning 3-2.
Floyd is just 1-4 in his last seven starts and has been very hittable, including a 6-3 loss to the Cubs on June 20. He gave up two homers and all six of the Cubs runs over five innings. The Cubs have been on a homer binge, especially at Wrigley, so Floyd needs to be careful and maybe pray for some pitcher-friendly wind.
Lopez gets the nod in favor of Doug Davis, who was released after allowing 10 runs on 12 hits over 4 1/3 to the Giants. Lopez hasn’t been stretched out as a starter much this year, though he did throw 96 pitches in his last start when Cubs manager Mike Quade was hoping he could throw 80.
The Cubs bullpen is very overworked and very susceptible. The team hasn’t been off since June 23 and won’t see another one until the All-Star break. They’re in the middle of a seven-day, eight-game homestand which included a Tuesday doubleheader.
If the White Sox can break through on the starters, it can be a very long weekend for the Cubs and their bullpen, but the White Sox pitching also has to come through – the Cubs are no slouches at the plate.
Starlin Castro has cooled off, as have most of the options Quade has at the top of his lineup, but Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez have been on a tear and Soto has also been heating up. These are guys who can change a game with just one swing.
I expect higher-scoring affairs than we saw a week and a half ago, and maybe…JUST MAYBE, there will be a vintage Adam Dunn sighting.
They are the friendly confines, after all. Just sayin’.
Sox take two of three and Ozzie Guillen gets the coveted BP Cup.