A game out of first place in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox aren’t giving up on a playoff berth.
Neither are the Tampa Bay Rays, who face an even tougher climb for the second AL wild card.
The White Sox turn to ace Chris Sale on Saturday when they continue their home series against the Rays.
After losing eight of nine, Chicago picked up a key 3-1 victory Friday. Coupled with Detroit’s 4-2 loss to Minnesota, the White Sox (83-74) pulled within one game of the first-place Tigers.
“It’s a little bit mentally exhausting,” Rios said. “It’s like we’re playing in the playoffs right now, and it’s been like this for quite a bit now. But you know what? It might be good, because we’re getting used to it.”
The loss was costly for the Rays (86-71), who had won eight straight. They fell three games behind Oakland for the second AL wild card and are now one game behind Los Angeles, which is also contending for that spot.
“Until the numbers say you’re eliminated, you’re out of it, anything’s possible,” the Rays’ Matt Joyce said.
While Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak, its offense stayed stagnant, going 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. It is hitting .139 (11 for 79) in those situations over the last 10 games while averaging 2.5 runs.
That puts a lot of pressure on the pitching staff, but for the most part, Sale (17-7, 2.86 ERA) has been up to the task.
Sale is winless in his last two starts, but pitched through his mistakes against Cleveland on Monday, allowing three runs and 10 hits - matching a season high - in seven innings of a 5-4 win.
“They were sitting on some good pitches, usually pitches I get some swings out of,” Sale, 9-2 with a 1.89 ERA at home, told the White Sox’s official website. “They got some pitches to hit and they did. Just lost it there for a little bit.”
The left-hander had one of his most impressive starts against the Rays on May 28, allowing one run and three hits while striking out a career-high 15 in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-1 victory.
Tampa Bay was limited to three hits Friday and has scored only 10 runs in five games against the White Sox this year. Ben Zobrist who accounted for Friday’s run with a solo homer, is hitting .370 (20 for 54) over his last 15 games.
Matt Moore (10-11, 3.92), who is 0-4 with a 5.72 ERA in his last six starts with Tampa Bay winning just one of them, will take the mound Saturday.
Moore gave up two runs, three hits and issued two walks in 2 2-3 innings of an 11-5 win over Toronto last Saturday. The rookie left-hander departed with two on in the third and has lasted four innings or less in three consecutive starts.
“I really don’t feel (fatigued),” Moore said. “That’s definitely not the issue.”
Moore pitched opposite Sale in May and took the loss. He gave up a two-run homer to Adam Dunn among his four hits and struck out 10 in seven innings.