The Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays face off at 2:00 pm (Postponed from 1:10) at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday, April 9th. Veteran starters Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Archer will get the nods for their respective teams in what should be an interesting pitchers’ duel. The Tampa Bay Rays are -135.
White Sox Need a Bounce Back
The White Sox fell from 3-2 to 3-5 after their disappointing home opener series this past week against the division rival Detroit Tigers. Game one of the series featured an average start from ace James Shields, followed by Joakim Soria’s first blown save of the season. The Sox eventually lost in extra innings on a Leonys Martin fielder’s choice and a Jeimer Candelario single. The second game saw Miguel Cabrera drive in 3 for Detroit in a 6-1 loss to the Tigers.
Dixon Machado also added 2 RBIs from the back of the batting order. Lucas Giolito, one of the many highly-touted young pieces involved in the White Sox’s ongoing rebuild, struggled during his cold outing. The third game of the sweep could be described as a pitchers’ duel. Reynaldo Lopez and Mike Fiers both delivered quality starts for the White Sox and Tigers, respectively. The Tigers collected one run in the top of the first, and that turned out to be the sole offense for the game.
In this game, the talented White Sox hitters had a tendency to fall behind in the count, and Fiers had the stuff to put them away. To succeed against the Rays’ veteran Chris Archer, the White Sox batters will have to lay off Archer’s electric stuff, particularly the slider. Mike Fiers was able to utilize his plus changeup on Sunday. Since Archer also has a good changeup, the Sox will have to exhibit the discipline to “sit back” on the changeup, instead of getting in front of it as they did on Sunday.
The White Sox pitching will have to show more consistency moving forward if they want to have more success. Although the Rays’ record doesn’t show it (1-8), they lost many of their games by 1 run. If the games get close, look for the White Sox to turn to either the aforementioned Soria or Bruce Rondon, who struck out all four batters he faced on Sunday.
Rays Struggling Big Time
The Tampa Bay Rays (1-8) will look to use this series against the rebuilding White Sox as a confidence builder, as they ultimately look to contend in the AL East this season. Chris Archer will look for retribution, as his last start against the White Sox last September was disastrous, with him only facing two batters. Both batters, Alen Hansen and Yolmer Sanchez, homered off Archer before he left the game. If he can establish his mid 90’s fastball and impressive changeup combo, his slider could prove devastating to the young Sox lineup.
The Rays are coming off of an equally disappointing series against their division rival Red Sox. The disappointment was capped off by utter terror for Rays fans, as they blew a 5 run lead late. Game one proved to be a tight, extra-inning contest capped off by a Hanley Ramirez walk-off single. The Rays held a two-run lead before Boston erased it in the bottom of the ninth, leading to the extra-inning win. Game 2 was less of a nail-biter. The Red Sox put up 4 runs in the bottom of the first, before running away with the game with another 4 in the second. As mentioned, game 3 seemed a sure win and end to the losing streak for Tampa Bay, before Boston’s amazing comeback in the bottom of the 8th.
White Sox Top Rays
Based on the performance of both of these teams, I would lean towards the South Siders to score late. Chris Archer will put in a quality start, exposing the young Sox with his nasty slider. However, the Sox have shown that they have the potential to be explosive. Look for them to get to Tampa Bay’s bullpen arms, and to come away with the victory. Tim Anderson could prove to be the X-factor for the pale hose, with his hot bat and aggressiveness on the basepaths being the recipe for getting into scoring position.
On the other side of the ball, the veteran Miguel Gonzalez will be able to handle the Rays. His splitter has been his go-to out pitch throughout his career. Look for him to rely on inducing the ground ball on a cold afternoon. Chicago’s infield has Chicago’s infield has proven to be more than capable of providing consistent range despite the hard bounces they have seen so far this season. Take the White Sox +115