Series Preview 46: White Sox at Orioles

The White Sox continue what has been an awful road trip with a trip to Baltimore to take on the Orioles.  The Sox have lost all six games on the trip to the Red Sox and Yankees.

The Orioles are coming home after a poor road trip of their own losing six of the nine games.  The O’s are getting desperate as they are now four games out of a wild card spot and have fallen behind the Yankees in the standings.  The Sox took two out of three against the Orioles earlier in the season.

Pitching Prospects

The series kicks off Thursday night with Jose Quintana (7-5, 3.69 ERA) taking on Miguel Gonzalez (8-7, 4.11 ERA).

Gonzalez has been a starter for the Orioles most of the year but has made a few relief appearances in September.  He has been pretty solid this year with 15 quality starts out of his 23 total starts.  However, his last start was his worst one of the season as he was tagged for 7 runs in just 4 innings of work against the Yankees.  Overall in September Gonzalez is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA and opponents are hitting .277 against him.  Gonzalez will be making his first career start against the White Sox and only Jeff Keppinger (1-for-10) and Avisail Garcia (2-for-3, HR) has faced him before. 

Quintana’s last outing was cut short against the Yankees thanks to a lengthy rain delay after he threw just one inning.  His two previous starts were pretty solid, working through the 7th inning each time and allowing three runs to the Royals and Astros.

As usual he did not factor in the decision in either start.  Quintana’s second season in the big leagues has been solid and he hasn’t really shown any signs of fatigue setting in, although with the Sox new six man rotation he will likely not get to 200 innings.

Quintana faced the Orioles back on the 4th of July and turned in his best performance of the season.  He tossed 7 innings of 2 hit shutout baseball while striking out a career high 11 batters.  Only Nick Markakis (2-for-5, double) has multiple hits against Jose among current Orioles batters, and Adam Jones has the lone home run.

Game two of the series on Friday night will feature John Danks (4-11, 4.35 ERA) facing off against Scott Feldman (11-10, 3.75 ERA).

Feldman (from across the hall) will be making his eleventh start with the Orioles after coming over from the Cubs in late June.  With the O’s Feldman is 4-4 with a 4.18 ERA, and has pitching pretty well as of late.  In his last four starts Feldman is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA and has held opponents to a .205 batting average.  Feldman’s first start with the O’s was against the Sox back on July 3rd and he pitched well, throwing 6 innings and allowing 2 runs on 6 hits in a no decision.

He had a similar line when he faced the Sox as a member of the Cubs back on May 29th, 6 innings, with 2 runs on 6 hits.  In his two starts against the Sox he has not walked a batter and struck out 13.  Paul Konerko (.273, 2 HR’s) and Gordon Beckham (.313, HR) have had the most success against Feldman.

John Danks is coming off a rough start in Boston where he allowed 6 runs (5 ER) on 11 hits in 5 innings and took the loss.  That was after back to back wins against Kansas City and Texas here he pitched very well.  The up and down season continues for Danks, who is still finding his way after last season’s shoulder surgery.  The good news is that Danks has thrown 122 innings and hasn’t had a setback.

The other good news is that after giving up 20 home runs in his first 90 innings (2 HR/9 innings) he has allowed 3 homers in his last 32 innings (0.8 HR/9 innings).  Danks beat the Orioles earlier this year allowing 2 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.  Nick Markakis (.333, HR), Brian Roberts (.360, HR) and J.J. Hardy (.333, HR) have had success against Danks in the past.

It will be a Saturday matinee game when Hector Santiago (4-8, 3.43 ERA) faces off with Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.87 ERA).

Like most of the Baltimore starters Chen has been good but not great this year.  He has allowed more than three runs in a start three times this year and allowed less than two runs six times.  He did not last very long in either of his last two starts against the Red Sox and Yankees.  The BoSox lit him up for 8 runs in 3.2 innings and the Yankees bounced him after 4 innings and 3 runs.  Chen made two starts against the Sox last year and went 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA.  Jeff Keppinger (5-for-11) is the only Sox player with multiple hits against Chen.

Hector Santiago has his last start pushed back after a tough outing against the Red Sox in Fenway.  He took the loss going just 3.2 innings and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits with 5 walks and 3 strikeouts.  The walks have continued to be Santiago’s undoing and have also pushed his pitch counts high, forcing him out of the game early even if he is pitching well.

He has only pitched into the 7th inning once in his last five starts and has 16 walks in 26.2 innings (5.4 BB’s/9 innings).  It’s possible that Santiago is starting to fatigue as he has now thrown more innings than any other season in his professional career and 49 more innings than last year.  He made a start against the Orioles back in July and pitched very well, going 7 innings and giving up 2 runs on 5 hits with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts.  Adam Jones (2-for-5, HR) is the only Baltimore hitter with multiple hits against Santiago. 

The finale of the series and the Sox road trip will be Sunday afternoon when Andre Rienzo (1-1, 5.03 ERA) takes the mound opposite Bud Norris (10-10, 4.01 ERA). 

Norris will be making start number eight for the Orioles since coming over from Houston at the trade deadline.  Since joining the O’s Norris is 4-1 with a 4.28 ERA.  With the exception of one rough start against Oakland, Norris has been very solid for Baltimore.  His last two starts he has a 1.46 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .182 batting average.  He has not lost a start since coming to Baltimore with his only blemish a 14th inning relief appearance.

The Sox beat Norris when he was a member of the Astros back in mid-June.  In that start Norris when 6 innings and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits, struck out 4 and didn’t walk a batter.  That was the only start of his career against the Sox.

After getting off to a good start Andre Rienzo has struggled the last few times out.  He gave up 7 runs (5 ER) to the Astros in 6 innings and last time out the Red Sox knocked him around for 5 runs in 3 innings.  The concern about Rienzo coming out of the minors was that he was walking 3.7 batters per 9 innings but was making up for it with high strikeout numbers.  Now at the Major League level, Rienzo is walking 4.8 batters per 9 innings while his K’s/9 have dropped from 9.0 to 6.4.

As a result he has been beaten around a little bit lately.  He has also allowed 7 home runs, the same total he allowed in 113 innings in Charlotte.  Rienzo will have to cut down the walks if he wants to be successful as a starter in the big leagues.  This is a good test for him against a team that doesn’t walk very often but does lead the AL in home runs.

Series Notes

New Faces: Sox fans will continue to get a look at some new faces over the next few weeks.  In Wednesday’s game against the Yankees three players made their Major League debut for the Sox.  Marcus Semien went 2-for-4 with an RBI, Erik Johnson went 6 innings allowing 3 ER (5 total) and Daniel Webb tossed an inning of relief.  The Sox will continue to try out players for next year over the last month of the season so expect to see Semien, Webb and catchers Bryan Anderson and Miguel Gonzalez throughout September. 

Historically Bad?: The Sox recent skid has them at 56-82 for the season and on pace for a record of 66-96 which would be the most losses by a White Sox team since the 1976 team lost 97 games.

In order for the White Sox to avoid losing 100 games for the first time since 1970 they will need to win at least seven of their final 24 games.  The Sox play 20 of their final 24 games against teams with winning records, including the Tigers and Indians six times each. 

Hard Hittin’ O’s: The Orioles lead the American League with 185 home runs.  They have four players with 20 or more dingers and six players in double digits.  By comparison the White Sox have 125 home runs and only Adam Dunn (30 HRs) who has more than 20 bombs.

The Sox next highest home run total, Alejandro De Aza’s 15, would rank 5th on the Orioles.  Baltimore has relied on power all season but it still might not be enough to get them into the playoffs.  Sounds like a lot of the White Sox teams in the early 2000’s.