Since dropping the finale of their season-opening series against Minnesota, the White Sox have not strayed more than a game above or below .500 since.
They can break away from that stretch on Tuesday when they welcome the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox for the first of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Red Sox are off to a surprisingly poor start, dropping seven of their last 10 after opening the season by taking two of three from the Baltimore Orioles. They come in with a 5-8 record, losing three of four to the New York Yankees over the weekend.
The White Sox went 2-4 against Boston last season, taking the first two games of a series in May before dropping the final four games, with the latter three coming long after the White Sox's season fell off the rails.
Tuesday's game will mark the return of Jake Peavy to Chicago after the White Sox dealt the veteran to Boston at the trade deadline a year ago in a three-team deal that netted them Avisail Garcia. This won't be the first time the White Sox have faced Peavy since the deal, however, as he won a late-season start against them last season, going 7 innings and allowing two earned runs with four strikeouts. It will be his first start in Chicago since the trade, though.
Peavy's counterpart on Tuesday will be Erik Johnson, who looked better — but still not very good — in Wednesday's loss to the Colorado Rockies. This will be Johnson's first career start against Boston. Here's how the series' matchups stack up:
- Tuesday: Erik Johnson (0-1, 9.58 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (0-0, 2.13 ERA)
- Wednesday: John Danks (1-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (0-1, 6.97 ERA)
- Thursday: Chris Sale (3-0, 2.66 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (1-2, 2.57 ERA)
Thursday's finale obviously offers the most intrigue, but let's start with Wednesday's pitching matchup. Danks faced the Red Sox only once in 2013, dropping the aforementioned game against Peavy, allowing five earned runs and 11 hits in five innings. He's started nine games against Boston in his career and sports a 5.37 ERA in 52 innings pitched.
Those results don't spell doom for Danks, however, as of current Red Sox regulars with enough bats to warrant mentioning, David Ortiz is the only hitter who has had any measure of success against him, hitting .294 with two home runs in 17 plate appearances. Most others haven't fared well, with Mike Napoli, specifically, struggling to a .222 batting average and 13 strikeouts in 28 career plate appearances against Danks.
Buchholz, the righty Danks opposes on Wednesday, fared well against the White Sox in 2013 (then again, who didn't?), allowing one earned run over 7 innings in his lone start. He's made six starts against the White Sox in his career, registering a modest 4.29 ERA across 35.2 innings. None of the current White Sox regulars have seen Buchholz more than eight times in his career (although Paul Konerko is 7-for-15 with one home run in his career against him).
As stated, Thursday's finale is the most intriguing on paper, with aces Sale and Lester taking the hill. Surprisingly, Sale has yet to face Boston as a starter in his career, making five relief appearances early on.
Lester lost his lone start against the White Sox in 2013, allowing five earned runs in six innings last May. He's struggled against them in his career, allowing 37 earned runs in 61.1 innings pitched (5.43 ERA) across 10 starts. Among current White Sox regulars, Alexei Ramirez is the only hitter with a large enough sample size against Lester to warrant mentioning. Ramirez is 6-for-25 against him in his career. Konerko, it should be mentioned, is 10-for-25 against Lester and could potentially see his first start of the season against the left-hander.
I would be remised to fail to mention that the arrival of Boston also means the White Sox will welcome old friend A.J. Pierzynski back to U.S. Cellular Field for just the second time since he left as a free agent after the 2012 season. Pierzynski returned once last season — that time as a member of the Texas Rangers — and hit .250 in 15 plate appearances against the White Sox last season.
If a Peavy-Pierzynski battery combines to shut down the White Sox Tuesday night, rest assured, there will be weeping.
- Adam Eaton - CF
- Marcus Semien - 2B
- Conor Gillaspie - 3B
- Jose Abreu - 1B
- Adam Dunn - DH
- Dayan Viciedo - RF
- Alejandro De Aza - LF
- Alexei Ramirez - SS
- Tyler Flowers - C
Erik Johnson - SP
Red Sox Lineup:
- Grady Sizemore - LF
- Xander Bogaerts - SS
- David Ortiz - DH
- Mike Napoli - 1B
- Daniel Nava - RF
- A.J. Pierzynski - C
- Ryan Roberts - 3B
- Jackie Bradley Jr. - CF
- Jonathan Herrera - 2B
Jake Peavy - SP
Where to Watch: Today’s game will be broadcast on WCIU and NESN, 7:10 p.m. CT start time