White Sox look to complete ray sweep – NBC Chicago
Entering the season, the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays were considered two of the top contenders in the American League.
Just over a week into the season, that prediction only seems to be half true. Coming off a 3-2 win over the Rays on Saturday in Chicago, the White Sox are 6-2 and in sole possession of the top spot in AL Central. The Rays are on a four-game losing streak.
Chicago won the first two games of the series and has a chance to sweep at home Sunday afternoon. The good news for the White Sox is that they got off to a quick start without their offense totally clicking.
Tim Anderson is hitting .440 and Andrew Vaughn is hitting .348, but the rest of Chicago’s bats have been quiet.
Saturday’s game showed that the trend may be coming to an end. Jose Abreu, who hit 30 home runs last season, was quiet at the start of the year. But Abreu hit a two-run home run, his first of the season, against two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.
Pitching was key to Chicago’s quick start, somewhat surprisingly as Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Joe Kelly struggled with injuries. But the White Sox got a solid outing from Michael Kopech, in his first full season as a starter, on Saturday and Dylan Cease missed a quality start in Friday night’s win.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he was delighted to get five solid runs from Kopech on Saturday. Due to limited spring training, La Russa didn’t let Kopech go past a 75 shot tally.
“The better he throws, the longer he lasts, the better for us,” La Russa said. “But, at some point, when a guy starts losing it, bad things happen. You push him and he turns a good outing into a bad vibe or he gets injured.”
The Rays started their season with three straight wins over Baltimore and many Tampa fans just assumed the team would be easily heading to its second straight 100-win season. But a 1-3 series against Oakland and the 0-2 start against the White Sox raised some concerns.
“We’re 4-5 for a reason,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “We haven’t had as many principles in defense and we’re running into withdrawals.”
The Rays are also struggling at home plate. The Tampa Bay batters struck out 12 in Saturday’s game. Ji-Man Choi, who is averaging .526, and Wander Franco (.378) were the only offensive bright spots.
The outlook for Tampa Bay on Sunday doesn’t look particularly bright. The Rays will look to right-hander JP Feyereisen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) as a starter due to injuries to the pitching staff. Feyereisen has been in the league since 2020 and has made 65 appearances. But it will be the first start of his career.
After finishing the series with the White Sox, the Rays will stay in Chicago and play a three-game series with the Cubs before getting their first day off this season.
The White Sox will counter with Vince Velasquez (0-0, 2.25 ERA), who has 128 career starts. Velasquez made two starts against the Rays and is 0-0 with a 3.27 ERA.