With both clubs underachieving and another Chicago sports team in the national spotlight, this season’s first meeting between the White Sox and Cubs isn’t generating as much attention as in years past.
That could change once the first pitch is thrown at Wrigley Field when the White Sox try for a third consecutive victory overall and fourth straight over the Cubs on Friday.
Traditionally the focus of the Chicago sports scene this time of year, this series has lacked the carnival-like hype that usually precedes the matchup. It’s understandable, with both teams under .500 and a city celebration honoring the Chicago Blackhawks’ first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years scheduled hours before Friday’s opener.
“It’s kind of calm this year,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski(notes) told the White Sox’s official website. “I’m sure it will be crazy once the game starts, but with the (Blackhawks) parade (Friday morning), it will be different for sure.
“Both teams are not where they are expected to be.”
The White Sox (26-33), who lead 37-35 in the series with the North Siders, have been such a disappointment that general manager Kenny Williams said this week he’ll explore options to improve the club. The South Siders, who rank near the bottom of the majors in batting average (.244) and ERA (4.73), will try to match their longest winning streak of the season.
The Cubs (27-33) are 20-16 against the White Sox at Wrigley Field, but the South Siders have won seven of nine overall in the series and took two of three at Wrigley last year for their first series victory on the North Side since 2006.
Peavy, nearly acquired by the Cubs during the 2008 offseason, is 1-3 with a 7.03 ERA in his last four starts but looks forward to pitching against an NL opponent.
The former San Diego Padres ace, taking his second crack at his 100th victory, is 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA in eight starts against the Cubs but has a 6.30 ERA in his last two at Wrigley and lost both.
“I love the National League game,” said the right-hander, who allowed two runs in seven innings of a 3-1 loss to Cleveland on Saturday.
Wells, 0-4 with a 6.11 ERA in seven starts since beating Arizona on April 30, looks to bounce back after giving up six runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 loss at Houston on Sunday.
The right-hander won his only start against the White Sox after he allowed two runs in seven innings of a 5-4 win June 26.
Byrd - 16 for 30 in his last seven games - had three hits Thursday as the Cubs lost for the seventh time in 10 games, 5-4 in 10 innings at Milwaukee.