With a challenging stretch of road games looming, losses to last-place teams should be particularly hard to digest for the playoff-hopeful Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox look to avoid a second straight defeat to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night as they continue a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.
Consecutive series against Oakland, Kansas City and Baltimore - the three worst teams in the AL - provided Chicago (62-60) with an excellent opportunity to close the gap on Central-leading Detroit. The White Sox took two of three from the Athletics and Royals before losing Friday night’s opener 5-1 to the Orioles (50-72).
Thome, who returned to the lineup after missing three straight games with a sore left heel, moved past Reggie Jackson into sole possession of 12th on the career homer list.
“It’s tough to sit back and think of the names that you tie and you pass,” Thome said. “It’s very humbling, but the focus is to win and if you do those things it’s great and you feel proud of them but ultimately it’s about winning.”
The White Sox open an 11-game trip Monday with the first of four straight against Boston, then face the Yankees and Minnesota for three games each before closing the swing at Wrigley Field for a makeup game Sept. 3 against the Cubs.
Leadoff hitter Brian Roberts(notes) continued his power surge Friday with a pair of homers, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth inning, as the Orioles won two straight for the first time since July 29-30.
Roberts, who hit a grand slam in Thursday’s win at Tampa Bay, is batting .385 with five homers and 13 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak.
“I know my job and my role. That doesn’t really change no matter who is on this team,” Roberts said. “We could add Albert Pujols(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes) and that doesn’t change what my role is.”
Roberts’ second career multi-homer game helped the Orioles improve the AL’s worst road record to 20-41. They haven’t won three in a row overall since a five-game run June 17-21.
John Danks(notes) (10-8, 3.96 ERA) tries to beat the Orioles for the third time in three tries this season. The left-hander has rebounded from a poor performance against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 6 by limiting his last two opponents - Seattle and Oakland - to a combined three runs and 15 hits in 15 1-3 innings with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
He pitched into the eighth against the A’s on Monday but did not get a decision after yielding two runs and eight hits in a 3-2 loss.
Danks is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA against Baltimore this season, and 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA in five career games.
One of four rookies in Baltimore’s rotation, David Hernandez(notes) (4-5, 4.20) makes his first appearance against the White Sox. The right-hander helped his case to be a part of the team’s 2010 plans by limiting Boston and the Yankees to two runs over a combined 13 innings in back-to-back starts last month, but the 24-year-old is 1-3 with a 6.52 ERA in his last four outings.
Hernandez struggled in his most recent start, allowing five runs and seven hits - three homers - over 5 1-3 innings in an 8-5 defeat to the Angels on Monday.