Manager: Robin Ventura (4th season)
Last 10 games: 3-7
Who to watch: 1B Jose Abreu (.284/.346/.497 with 8 HR, 29 RBIs, 10 BB), RF Avisail Garcia (.327/.365/.456 with 48 hits and 18 RBIs), SS Alexei Ramirez (40 hits, 20 RBIs), LHP Chris Sale (3-2, 54 K), RHP David Robertson (9 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: 0-1
Inside the White Sox:
When the White Sox visited Baltimore last month, the teams only played one of the three scheduled games in a shortened series due to unrest in the city. The two postponed games were rescheduled for the doubleheader today at Camden Yards. The one game they did play on April 29 was closed to the public, the first such game in major league history.
In his fourth season at the helm, Robin Ventura is the 18th former White Sox player to also manage the club. In fact, Ventura and the Phillies' Ryne Sandberg are the only current managers who were also drafted by and played for the clubs they now manage. Ventura's 294 home runs are the second-highest among active managers behind only Washington's Matt Williams (378).
With his team's offensive struggles this year, Ventura might wish he could insert himself into the lineup. Chicago ranks last in the American League in runs (161), homers (28), RBIs (155) and slugging percentage (.357). They also struggle to get on base, ranking 12th in the AL with a .304 on-base percentage. And when they do get on base, they struggle to advance, ranking last in the majors in total bases (530) and stolen bases (11).
However, a positive for the Sox heading into Baltimore, considering their struggles against left-handed pitchers, is missing the Orioles' only lefty starter, Wei-Yin Chen. Chen went five innings in a no-decision on Monday against the Houston Astros. Chicago's 278 at-bats against lefties out of their total 1,485 this season is the least in the AL. This has led to only three home runs and 22 RBIs against left-handers, both last in the majors. The only other lefty pitchers on the Orioles active roster are in their bullpen, relievers Brian Matusz (who has a suspension looming) and closer Zach Britton.
Whether they face righties or lefties may not matter much for the White Sox, who don't see much offense outside of two players. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia lead the club in hits, home runs, batting average, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Abreu also leads the team with 29 RBIs, and Alexei Ramirez is second with 20. Offseason acquisitions Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche haven't contributed as much as they had hoped in the first quarter of the season. They have only combined for five homers and 33 RBIs.
Left-hander Chris Sale will get the ball in the opening game of the doubleheader. Sale has thrown eight innings in each of his last three starts, allowing a combined 12 hits and seven runs (six earned), while striking out 28 and only walking four. His ERA in May is 3.38, which is down from 5.16 in April. His 4.21 ERA for the season leads the White Sox rotation, but would only be fourth on the Orioles' staff behind Ubaldo Jimenez, Chen and Miguel Gonzalez. His arsenal includes a fastball, changeup and slider with Sale going to his fastball 58 percent of the time, topping at 98 mph and averaging 94 mph.
In the nightcap, right-hander Chris Beck will make his major league debut against fellow rookie righty Mike Wright. The 26-year-old Beck is 26-26 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons in Chicago's farm system. Beck is 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA while striking out 33 in just eight starts this season with Triple-A Charlotte. His three wins came consecutively at home to begin May, while his two losses were both on the road. Yet he owns a slightly better ERA of 3.00 on the road compared to 3.49 at home. Over the course of his three consecutive wins, Beck went at least six innings in each, while allowing only three runs, striking out 14 and walking five. Beck's first start of 2015 at Charlotte came against the Orioles' Norfolk affiliate, so at least they probably have some video of the righty to scout.
Right-handed closer David Robertson started this season lights out. In eight April appearances, he went 2-0 and earned three saves, while not allowing a run, giving up only three hits, striking out 17 and walking only one batter. Although he has earned six more saves in May, his ERA shot up to 4.22. Robertson is no stranger to the Orioles. The former New York Yankee has 39 career appearances against the Birds with a 5.73 ERA and a 6.16 ERA at Camden Yards. The O's 10 home runs are the most he's given up to a single club.
The White Sox, who are in last place in the AL Central, and Orioles have a history of doubleheader sweeps in Baltimore. Chicago completed a doubleheader sweep at Camden Yards on August 21, 1999, where the O's last home doubleheader sweep over the Sox was on July 12, 1984. The White Sox also have a doubleheader shutout in Baltimore, winning 3-0 and 4-0 on June 15, 1958.