After capturing AL Pitcher of the Month in May, Chicago White Sox hurler Chris Sale looks to keep rolling in June when he takes the ball today against the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale went 4-1 with a league-leading 1.71 earned run average in six games (5 starts) last month, striking out 35 batters to nine walks through 31 2/3 innings. Sale, who struck out a career-high 15 batters in 7 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field on May 28, tossed his first complete game in a 4-2 victory Sunday versus Seattle.
The young left-hander held the Mariners to a pair of runs and five hits with eight K's and two walks. Sale has gone seven innings or more in each of his last three starts and is 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 11 outings, 10 of which have been starts, this season. He has never faced Houston and sports a 3-2 mark in five home starts.
Gavin Floyd's first-ever appearance against the Astros didn't go so well in Friday's 8-3 loss in the series opener. The right-hander struggled through six innings and was tagged for four runs and four hits, including a pair of home runs and two walks. He struck out nine batters.
"When you fall behind, you give a guy the ability to sit on it and go after a fastball. His location needs to be better when they are in hitter's counts," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said about Floyd.
Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez both had two hits and an RBI, as the White Sox saw their lead atop the American League Central dwindle down to just one-half game ahead of the Cleveland. The Indians won last night in St. Louis.
Dunn still needs one home run to tie Harold Baines for 58th place all-time with 384. White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo left the game after five innings with tightness in both hamstrings. He is day-to-day and batting .267 with 12 homers and 29 runs batted in.
Paul Konerko finished 0-for-5 for Chicago in his second game back after missing three with a balky wrist. Chicago entered the game having won 15 of 19 games and is 3-4 on a nine-game homestand.
Houston kicked off a nine-game trek on the right foot and has won three of five games since losing eight in a row.
The Astros used the long ball to dispose of Floyd and the White Sox. Brian Bogusevic clubbed a three-run homer, Jed Lowrie hit a two-run shot and Brett Wallace also went deep, helping Houston overcome a 12-8 difference in hits.
"We played a lot of close games this year. Early on, we were kind of on the short end of a lot of them and it takes time to learn to do the little things that kind of turn it in your favor," said Bogusevic.
Astros third baseman Chris Johnson left the game in the sixth inning with an illness and was replaced by Brian Bixler in his first game up from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Johnson was 0-for-3 and Bixler struck out in his only at-bat.
Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez held on for the win even though he gave up three runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Coming off his first win of the season, Astros starter Jordan Lyles will handle pitching duties Saturday. Lyles earned his first win of the season in Sunday's 5-3 verdict over Cincinnati and lasted a season-long seven innings, yielding two runs and five hits. He had been 0-1 in his first four outings.
Lyles is 1-1 with a 4.97 earned run average in five starts this season and 0-0 with a 4.24 ERA in three starts at Minute Maid Park. The righty has never faced the White Sox.
Houston and Chicago were participants in the 2005 World Series won by the White Sox in four games. It was Chicago's first title since 1917. The two clubs met again in interleague play in 2007, when the Astros won two of three games in the Windy City. Chicago holds a 10-9 advantage against the Astros with a 7-6 home mark during interleague action.
Houston is 109-125 against the American League and Chicago owns a 151-112 record against the Senior Circuit.