While the Chicago White Sox are urging fans to “Punch A.J.,” their opponents are trying to slow down the White Sox catcher’s hot hitting this season.
The White Sox came up with the phrase in reference to the punch leveled at Pierzynski by Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on May 20. He is one of five players fans can cast online votes for to join the AL All-Star team in Pittsburgh. Also on the list are Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano, Detroit’s Justin Verlander, Cleveland’s Travis Hafner and Baltimore’s Ramon Hernandez.
“I’m going to vote for myself, but obviously all the guys are deserving,” Pierzynski said. “I was traded for Liriano—one of the guys who’s on there— and I faced Verlander a bunch.
“Obviously, Hafner’s killed us and I’ve known Hernandez since the Minor Leagues, so, it’d be tough. I know all of them, respect all of them as players and wish them all well.”
Pierzynski is batting .327 this season—second-best among major league catchers—and has had a hit in his last seven games. He was 2-for-5 on Tuesday in Chicago’s 13-0 rout of the Orioles (39-46).
Chicago (54-49) has won 20 of its last 27 games. Tuesday’s win coupled with a loss by the Detroit Tigers moved the White Sox within 1 1/2 games of the Tigers for the AL Central lead.
John Garland (7-3, 5.60 ERA) looks to win his fourth straight decision when he takes the mound Wednesday. Garland is 3-0 with a 3.70 ERA in his last four starts. Last Friday against the Chicago Cubs, the right-hander pitched six innings, giving up two runs and three hits to earn the win in a 6-2 victory.
Garland is 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA in six career appearances against the Orioles.
After Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez only lasted 2 2-3 innings on Tuesday, the Baltimore bullpen may be in store for another lengthy outing when Daniel Cabrera (4-5, 5.13) takes the mound on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old right-hander has pitched six or more innings in just five of his 14 starts this season. He did not earn a decision in his latest start, on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves.
Cabrera pitched five innings, giving up three runs while striking out seven in the 5-3 loss. He issued four walks in the game to bring his total to 64 walks on the season, the second-most in the majors behind the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano (65).
“We seemed to get in trouble with the walks tonight. He threw a lot of pitches again,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “You’re through five and you have to go to your bullpen—that’s a strain, to cover the next four innings.”
Cabrera has lost his last three decisions. He is 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox. Pierzynski is 1-for-5 with a double and a walk in his career versus Cabrera.
Baltimore has lost four of its last six games overall.