After a pitchers' duel in the opener, both offenses hope to find more success on Saturday night as the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros square off in the second of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.
Houston rode a great performance by Erik Bedard as it collected a 2-1 decision on Friday despite 14 strikeouts by White Sox hurler Chris Sale. Bedard limited Chicago to three hits and a sacrifice fly, which plated an unearned run, over six frames. He struck out six and Jose Veras notched his 12th save with a scoreless ninth.
Both runs went unearned to Sale, who scattered just five hits over an eight- inning complete game. He fell one strikeout shy of his career mark set on May 28, 2012 when he fanned 15 Tampa Bay Rays. Sale was hurt by poor fielding as Alexei Ramirez committed costly two errors in the fifth inning that enabled the Astros to score both of their runs. He became just the third pitcher since 1912 to strike out 14 batters in a losing effort.
Although Paul Konerko managed to go 2-for-3 in the loss, the White Sox went 1- for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"It's a tough one as far as the way (Sale) pitched and you want to get better," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "You want more out of it than that."
Chicago, which has lost 10 of its last 11 road games, will look to turn things around with southpaw John Danks on Saturday. Danks had his best outing of the season a week ago as he allowed only one run on three hits over eight innings against Oakland.
The start was just the fourth of the season for Danks, who is 1-2 with a 4.13 ERA since returning from shoulder surgery.
"It's night and day, it's not even close," said Danks on the immense progress he has made over the past few months. "Obviously, Spring Training was tough. I battled through a lot in spring, and just like they told me -- the more time and the more strengthening I get, the better I'll be."
Lucas Harrell is going be on the mound for the Astros as they try to deny Danks his second win of the season. Harrell has been stellar over his past two starts, with just one earned run on seven hits in 14 innings. He went 0-1 during that stint though because Houston managed just one run in those games.
The Astros continued to have trouble at the plate against Sale on Friday and finished with only five hits. Second baseman Jose Altuve led the way, going 2- for-4 with an RBI to raise his batting average to a team-best .297. Chris Carter had a rough night as he finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Carter paces Houston with 13 home runs and 35 RBI, but has gone 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts in his last five.
Chicago came in as winners of three of four and had captured five of its last eight games in Houston. This series marks the White Sox first trip to Minute Maid Park since 2000.
The White Sox enter Saturday in last place in the AL Central and trail the first-place Tigers by 8 1/2 games. Houston is in last place in the AL West with 16 1/2 games separating it from the division-leading Athletics.