The Chicago White Sox have picked the absolute worst time to play their worst baseball of the season. On Sunday, they try to keep their American League Central title hopes alive when they play the finale of a four- game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago fell two games back of the Detroit Tigers in the division on Saturday with its ninth loss in 11 games. It won't get any easier for the White Sox On Sunday, as they go up against AL Cy Young Award candidate David Price, who will be trying for his 20th win.
"The biggest thing for us right now is winning games," Price said. "If I get my 20th win, that means that the Rays won and that's the most important thing."
Price was magnificent on Tuesday in Boston, as he held the Red Sox to two runs and seven hits and struck out 13 in the complete game effort to improve to 19-5, while lowering his ERA to 2.56.
"That's the best my secondary stuff has ever been," Price said. "That's the most curveballs I've ever thrown. The most effective my changeup has been. That makes everything else that much better for me. So if I can go out there and do some of the things I did against Boston, if I can go out there and go deep into the game and give us a chance to win."
Price, though, is just 1-4 in five starts versus the White Sox with a 3.66 ERA.
Tampa, meanwhile, kept its postseason hopes alive on Saturday, as Matt Joyce belted a pair of home runs to back a terrific rebound start from Matt Moore in the Rays' 10-4 rout of the White Sox.
The win, Tampa Bay's ninth in its last 10 contests, kept the club three games back of Oakland for one of the American League's two wild card berths with four remaining. The Athletics rallied for a 7-4, 10-inning win over Seattle on Saturday.
Moore (11-11) yielded just one hit and two walks over 5 1/3 shutout innings to end a six-start winless drought. The rookie left-hander had gone 0-4 with a 5.72 earned run average over that stretch and hadn't lasted more than four innings in any of his last three starts.
"I just think he attacked better, attacked the strike zone better," Maddon said of Moore. "He had a couple of moments that got away from him, but for the most part, attacked the strike zone better. Pitched with his fastball mostly from what I could tell. Was pretty efficient too, got relatively efficient outs."
Chris Sale (17-8) was tagged for five runs and seven hits while issuing three walks over just 3 1/3 innings in his shortest start of the season. The 17-game winner, who did strike out seven before exiting, had been 8-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his last 10 home starts.
"That was a disgrace," Sale said afterward. "For (White Sox manager Robin Ventura) to say that was terrible was probably putting that lightly. I did nothing to help the team win, put guys in positions that they shouldn't have been in."
Hoping for a better effort on Sunday, the White Sox will rely on 23-year-old left-hander Jose Quintana, who is 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA. Quintana hasn't started since losing to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sept. 22 when he allowed four runs (1 earned) and walked five batters in five innings.
Over his last six starts Quintana has pitched to a 6.91 ERA and has a 20-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Quintana was ejected in the fourth inning earlier in the year against the Rays for throwing behind Ben Zobrist.
Chicago swept an early-season series against the Rays from May 28-30 and has won seven of the past 12 matchups between the two clubs.