Still holding a slim AL Central lead, the Chicago White Sox are looking to bounce back from a rough trip. Sending left-hander John Danks(notes) to the mound gives them a good chance to rebound, but the White Sox will likely have to find an answer for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez(notes).
Danks looks to win four consecutive starts for the first time Monday night when the White Sox go for their first eight-game winning streak at U.S. Cellular Field since 2008.
Despite finishing a 4-6 trip Sunday with a 6-4 loss to Oakland, Chicago (53-44) returns home with a one-game divisional lead over Minnesota.
The White Sox extended their Central advantage to a season-high 3 1/2 games following Danks’ previous start, Tuesday’s 4-0 victory at Seattle. Danks (10-7, 3.37 ERA) gave up two hits in 7 2-3 innings to win 10 games for the third straight season. Opponents are batting .165 against him in his last three outings.
“The thing (is), when you are having trouble scoring runs John Danks is not the guy you want to see,” said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, whose team is last in the majors in batting (.235), runs (330) and home runs (62). “He showed up again tonight - as good as I’ve ever seen.”
Danks is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in his last four starts versus Seattle after losing his first four career outings in this matchup. He’ll try to push Chicago’s home winning streak to eight, which would be the club’s longest since a nine-game stretch June 17-July 2, 2008.
The Mariners (39-60), who have the AL’s second-worst road record at 15-32, open a seven-game trip following consecutive victories over Boston.
Sparked by a two-run single from Michael Saunders(notes), who hit the go-ahead two-run homer off left-hander Jon Lester(notes) in Saturday’s 5-1 win, Seattle scored three times in the eighth inning Sunday for a 4-2 victory.
“We’ve talked about the necessity for him to face left-handers and continue to play,” Wakamatsu said of Saunders, who is batting .357 against left-handers since June 29.
Looking to win three in a row for the first time since a six-game streak June 16-23, the Mariners give the ball to Hernandez (7-6, 2.75), who hasn’t allowed a run to the White Sox in his last three starts against them - a stretch covering 23 innings. The right-hander struck out eight and threw eight innings of two-hit ball in Wednesday’s 2-1, 11-inning victory over Chicago. The win snapped the Mariners’ five-game skid to the White Sox, but Hernandez was still upset after Wakamatsu took him out after just 93 pitches.
“No, I don’t understand,” Hernandez said. “I don’t worry about the innings. I feel good. I feel strong. What do you want me to say? Talk to the manager.”
Chicago, which has won 14 of 15 at U.S. Cellular Field since June 9, has won four straight and eight of nine at home against Seattle.