Series preview: Inconsistent White Sox battle the streaking Cubs
The Chicago White Sox, coming off a three game sweep of the struggling Los Angeles Angels, face the surging Chicago Cubs who are winners of nine of their last 10 and 13 of their past 15. Their record of 65-48 is good for the fourth best record in baseball.
There is no other way to put it, the Cubs are red hot and finding ways to win, signs of a good team prime for a run into October.
If the White Sox want to keep on clawing away in the Wild Card race and gain some valuable ground before they embark on a seven-game west coast road trip, they need to be the team that took two out of three from these same Cubs before the All-Star break.
Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups and some predictions I have for part two of this weekend’s Crosstown Classic.
Friday’s matchup sees a battle of right handers with Jeff Samardzija squaring off against Kyle Hendricks.
Hendricks fared well in his first battle against the White Sox going seven strong innings while scattering only five hits in a 1-0 loss. In his starts since then, he’s only gone more than six innings once. The White Sox hitters need to get to him early and be aggressive especially against the Cubs potent offense with shaky Samardzija on the hill.
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Speaking of Samardzija, he has not shown the same success on the Southside that he did on the Northside for most of his career. Samardzija has been blown out his last two starts in which he surrendered a total of 16 runs.
To be honest, I don’t know which pitcher I’ll see when I go to the game tomorrow. He is a microcosm of his team as a whole: flashes of brilliance sandwiched around stretches of incompetence. However, I think tomorrow Shark will be amped up to face his former team and pitch lights out and neutralize this dangerous Cubs lineup.
My prediction: White Sox 4 Cubs 2.
Saturday night’s event showcases the master of the no decision, Jose Quintana against the seemingly unstoppable Jake Arrieta. Make no mistake about it, Arrieta has been lights out as of late. He’s third in the National League in ERA and wins, fifth in strikeouts, and he threw a complete game against the White Sox last time and made them look like an A-ball team.
I’ll be happy if the White Sox take two out of three from the Cubs this weekend and I think this is the one they don’t win. Arrieta has taken the role of their ace. He welcomes it and performs like it and when you’re on you’re just on.
My prediction: Quintana throws well for six innings but Anthony Rizzo and/or Kyle Schwarber get to him sooner or later and their offense breaks this one open. Cubs 6 White Sox 1.
Aug 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Sunday afternoon’s game sees the recently acquired Dan Haren for the Cubs staring down our ace, Chris Sale. If I’m being totally honest, I think the White Sox blow out the Cubs this game. Dan Haren is nothing special and Chris Sale is a top five pitcher in the league at the very least. This lineup couldn’t solve Sale back in July and I don’t see it happening again.
Sale knows how badly his team needs this game and this series and I have no doubt he steps up and pitches lights out as usual. Another notable fact is that the White Sox own the best batting average against Haren at .293 so we all better knock on wood that that keeps up because nothing is certain with this team.
Anyways, as for my prediction: White Sox 8 Cubs 1.
All in all, this Crosstown Classic is shaping up to be a fun weekend of baseball. One team looking to extend their lead in the Wild Card and the other is hoping to be in that position by the time the season ends. This series can go a long way in each team’s goals for the rest of the season and whichever crosstown rival prevails can use this as a springboard for the rest of August and September.
I just hope that team is the one that plays at 35th and Shields.
Next: Should the White Sox keep playing Adam LaRoche?