The Chicago White Sox hope the start of a new month will warm up their struggling bats as they begin an eight-game road trip Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
Chicago (12-11) finished April with a major league-worst .225 batting average, a big reason why the White Sox are hovering near .500 despite a respectable 3.98 team ERA.
“The hardest thing in baseball is to pitch and pitch well,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “And we’re wasting good pitching. Those guys are going out and pitching well and we’re not helping them. The hitters know. They’re frustrated.”
The White Sox have scored 95 runs, tied with Oakland for the second-fewest in the American League. Seattle (10-10) has scored an AL-low 90 runs, but the Mariners have played fewer games than any team in baseball.
“Every team goes through bad months,” Chicago center fielder Darin Erstad told the team’s official Web site. “Ours just happens to be the first month, and everything on the board looks funny because there aren’t that many at-bats.”
It was a particularly forgettable month for slugger Paul Konerko, who batted .198 with three homers and 16 RBIs. He is a career .225 hitter in May, his worst mark in any month.
Konerko, though, has fared well against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn (1-2, 2.96 ERA) in his career, hitting .385 (15-for-39) with four doubles and four homers.
The problems of Konerko and Jermaine Dye (.221) make the timing of the rib cage injury that has landed leading hitter Jim Thome on the disabled list even worse. Ryan Sweeney was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Thome’s place and went 0-for-2 in his season debut in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Seattle won for the fifth time in six games with a 5-1 victory over Kansas City on Sunday. Willie Bloomquist lined a two-run double in the seventh inning to snap a tie after Cha Seung Baek pitched 6 1-3 effective innings to keep the Mariners in the game.
Ichiro Suzuki completed April—the only month in which he has batted below .300 in his career—with a .305 average. The center fielder has batted .373 in his career in May, his highest mark in any month.
Washburn earned his first victory of the season by pitching a three-hitter in a 2-0 victory at Oakland on Wednesday. He didn’t allow a runner past second base and walked two in his third career shutout.
“I was pretty locked in,” Washburn said. “It’s one of the best games I’ve ever pitched. I was by no means dominating, but I was able to make them mis-hit the ball.”
The left-hander is 5-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 14 career starts against Chicago.
White Sox starter Javier Vazquez (2-0, 3.75) allowed a season-high five runs over six-plus innings in his last outing, but did not receive a decision in Chicago’s 9-7 win at Kansas City last Tuesday.
Vazquez has posted a 3.75 ERA in winning both of his career starts at Safeco Field. Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre is hitting .440 (11-for-25) against him.
Chicago has won the season series between these teams for three straight years.