The Chicago White Sox will try to recover from having their nine-game winning streak snapped by sending Chris Sale to the mound to fend off the Seattle Mariners in the series finale at U.S. Cellular Field.
It took a 12-inning, four-plus hour game that featured 16 pitchers and eight homers for Chicago's winning streak to finally end. The White Sox came back from deficits on four different occasions before falling 10-8 in extra innings in the second contest of this three-game set. Gavin Floyd was the first of nine pitchers to see the field for Chicago in game. The right-hander gave up five runs on nine hits, four of which were home runs, in five innings.
The White Sox hope Sale will fair better in the rubber match on Sunday, and his recent history suggests that he will. The young lefty has been untouchable in his last three outings, winning each while holding opponents to a .147 average and a 0.92 ERA. Sale is coming off of a 15-strike out performance in which he gave up just one run to the Rays on Monday.
The 15 strikeouts by the 23-year old was the most by a White Sox pitcher since Jack Harshman sat down 16 on July 25, 1954.
"He's special," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Sale. "I think that's what you're seeing is him being able to kind of manage the game and know when to go for the strikeout and get ahead and all those things."
Gordon Beckham did his best to keep Chicago's streak alive on Saturday as he went 3-of-6 at the plate with a home run and four RBI. Beckham extended his hitting streak to nine games with the solid performance. Alejandro De Aza also had a three-hit night in the loss while A.J. Pierzynski drove in two runs.
Adam Dunn had a forgettable game. The slugger went 0-for-5 with a walk and struck out three times. Dunn is 1-for-13 at the plate with two walks and nine strike outs in his last three games.
The Mariners will send out the veteran Kevin Millwood to challenge Chicago's young gun. Millwood has been quite impressive himself lately. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA over his last four starts. Millwood has given up just one run in his past 22 innings and is 2-2 with a 1.79 ERA on the road this season.
Seattle had a slugger of its own in Ichiro Suzuki on Saturday. The star outfielder belted his second and third home runs of the season in the back- and-forth battle. Center fielder Michael Saunders was locked in as well, as he went 4-for-6 at the plate with a homer. The Mariners, who are second to last in the AL with a collective batting average of .236, also got a boost from a Justin Smoak solo shot.
The Mariners plated the winning runs in the 12th, with John Jaso hitting a run-scoring double and Chone Figgins following with a single that plated Jaso.
"If you could define a team win, it would be what we did today," said Saunders. "Both teams used up their entire bullpens, guys did their jobs and came up with clutch hits and Jaso and Figgy won it in the 12th."
The Mariners are currently in third place, eight games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West. The White Sox are in first place and holding on to a 1 1/2-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central.
Chicago is 20-4 in its past 24 matchups with Seattle. The Mariners are 3-15 at U.S. Cellular Field since 2008.