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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, May 28th (All times eastern)
Chicago White Sox (26-22) at Tampa Bay Rays (29-29), 3:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Chris Sale (5-2, 2.50) Tampa Bay - Matt Moore (1-4, 5.07)
(Sports Network) - The Chicago White Sox go after a sixth straight win this afternoon when they start a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Chicago pulled within a half-game of the American League Central-leading Cleveland Indians this past weekend, as they swept the Tribe in a three-game set at Progressive Field, culminating with a decisive 12-6 win on Sunday.
"It's always hard to keep this pace," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But it's the work, for me, it's how (the offense) go about their approach. They're not always going to score double-digits, but the way they're doing it is what I'm more impressed by."
Paul Konerko continued his amazing season, as he went 2-for-4 and belted his 400th home run as a member of the White Sox. Chicago scored 35 runs in the sweep of the Indians and has homered in 13 straight games for the first time since 2006.
"Just the fact of being here is probably what I'm most proud of," said Konerko, who is now hitting a major league best .399. "More than any numbers or anything like that."
Hoping for that same type of support today, Chris Sale takes the hill in search of his sixth win of the season. Sale won his second straight start on Wednesday against Minnesota, as he scattered two hits over seven scoreless innings to improve to 5-2, while lowering his ERA to 2.50.
"Part of pitching is finding a groove and rolling with it," Sale said. "I felt early that I got into a groove, and A.J. was back there calling one of the best games I've seen him call in a while. It was fun to be out there. ... I felt like I was commanding my fastball well, and I threw the changeup for strikes more so than I have been. A.J. knew that. We used that to our advantage."
This will be his first-ever start against the Rays, who will counter with an impressive young lefty of their own in Matt Moore.
Moore, though, hasn't had the same kind of success this season as Sale and comes into tonight's tilt sporting a 1-4 mark to go along with a 5.07 ERA. Moore has lost his last three decisions, but didn't get one on Tuesday against Toronto, despite a horrible showing that saw him surrender four runs (two earned) and four walks in just 4 2/3 innings.
"Most of the time, when your physical mechanics break down, it's because of what you're thinking, and what you're thinking is too fast, your thoughts are too quick," Maddon said. "The real key there is to learn how to slow your thoughts down. If you're able to do that, then you can better focus on throwing the ball down and away. If you don't have that present-tense moment, it's really hard to execute what you're trying to do."
Tampa captured a hard-fought series with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, as Sean Rodriguez hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to carry the Rays to the win on Sunday in the rubber match of the three-game set at Fenway Park.
"It's just a good feeling knowing you're doing what you can to help the team win. Doing it in this fashion makes it even better," said Rodriguez. "There wasn't a guy on the team who didn't think we could come back and win this game."
Ben Zobrist and Will Rhymes drove in a run apiece for the Rays, who have taken four of five overall. Coupled with Baltimore's loss, Tampa tied the O's atop the AL East with identical 29-19 records.
Jake McGee (2-1) recorded the final out of the eighth and Fernando Rodney turned in a scoreless ninth for his 16th save. Jeremy Hellickson worked 7 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and three runs.
05/28 10:49:24 ET
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