BALTIMORE (AP) — When the Chicago White Sox last visited Camden Yards, Chris Sale didn’t get his turn in the series when civil unrest in Baltimore led to the cancellation of two games.
The left-hander will finally get his chance to beat the Orioles for the first time in the opener of Thursday’s doubleheader when the White Sox look to snap a five-game losing streak versus Baltimore.
The White Sox are making an originally unscheduled stop on their now 11-game road trip to make up for the games that were postponed in April due to the riots that followed the controversial death of Freddie Gray.
Sale (3-2, 4.21 ERA) likely would have started the finale of that three-game series, but instead had his outing pushed back. He’s gone 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA – his highest against any AL opponent – in three career starts versus Baltimore.
The three-time All-Star has gone eight innings in each of his last three outings while striking out 28. However, he only has one victory in his past six while receiving 15 runs of support, though Sale also has been inconsistent. He has his highest ERA this deep into a season since becoming a starter in 2012.
Sale allowed four runs – three earned – and a season-high two homers in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Minnesota.
“Main focus is keep the ball down,” he told MLB’s official website. “Mix in fastballs, offspeed stuff, just try to find my own tempo while I’m trying to screw up them a little bit.”
Sale can become the first White Sox pitcher to go at least eight innings in four straight starts since Mark Buehrle in June 2008.
That would benefit a bullpen which may need to be relied upon in Game 2 with Chicago starting Chris Beck in his major league debut. The right-hander was 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Charlotte.
The White Sox (24-20) snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday when Adam LaRoche delivered an RBI single and Gordon Beckham added a run-scoring double in the 10th inning of a 5-3 victory at Toronto.
“We definitely needed a win,” said closer David Robertson, who blew a save for the second straight day.
Chicago failed to score more than three runs in eight straight games, averaging 1.9 while hitting .190, before totaling 14 runs over its past two and batting .333. Jose Abreu was 4 for 10 with a homer, a triple, a double and six RBIs in those contests.
The White Sox have been limited to 12 runs during the five-game skid against Baltimore – their longest in this series since 1994-95 – but now will face two rookie right-handers. Tyler Wilson (1-0, 4.50) gets his first major league start in the opener following a pair of relief appearances, then Mike Wright (1-0, 0.00) looks to build on an outstanding start to his big league career.
Wright has not given up a run while allowing seven hits over 14 1-3 innings through two starts. He’s the first Orioles pitcher with that many scoreless innings to start a career since Dave Ford went 15 in September 1978.
Baltimore (21-23) has won five of seven at home following Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over Houston. Chris Davis broke out of a 3-for-35 slump with two home runs, including a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning.
“I think that’s big, not only for me but for everyone in the lineup,” he said.
Davis hit a three-run homer in the last meeting with the White Sox, and Manny Machado added three hits in an 8-2 win at an empty Camden Yards on April 29. Machado is 10 for 24 over a six-game hitting streak versus Chicago.
Avisail Garcia had two of the White Sox’s four hits in that last matchup, but he might not be available due to a right knee injury.