The Orioles continue their trek through the AL Central, which they have struggled against in 2014. It won't get any easier as one of the best pitchers in baseball is up next. Pray to the baseball gods that this one goes well.
LHP Chris Sale, Chicago
2014 stats: 19 G, 10-2, 2.01 ERA, 130.0 IP, 91 H, 7 HR, 24 BB, 150 SO, .196 BAA, 0.88 WHIP
Last start (@ San Francisco): 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 12 SO, 0 ER, ND
Career against Baltimore: 8 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 5.28 ERA, 15.1 IP, 23 H, 9 BB, 13 SO
Pitch Selection for 2014 (Fangraphs)
The Orioles are an important part of Chris Sale's history. They are the team he made his debut against back in August of 2010. That was back when he was expected to be the future closer of the White Sox. Since then, he has become a three-time All-Star and a perennial contender for the Cy Young Award as a starter.
If the southpaw had not suffered a strained flexor muscle earlier he may have taken home the hardware this year. He is currently second in ERA, third in batting average against and second in WHIP. Ugh! Not the highest of hopes for this one.
2014 stats: 20 G, 10-7, 3.75 ERA, 120.0 IP, 113 H, 13 HR, 38 BB, 91 SO, .251 BAA, 1.26 WHIP
Last start (vs. NY Yankees): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, 3 ER, W
Career against Chicago: 2 G, 2 GS, 0-2, 6.97 ERA, 10.1 IP, 17 H, 15 BB, 36 SO
Remember when Norris was the Orioles best pitcher? That seems like so long ago. But that is part of the beauty this team. They are good enough where Norris can be a middle or back end arm like he should be.
He is what he is. But he absolutely has to go deeper into games. He has only thrown 10.1 innings over his last two starts. The Oriole bullpen is great but it won't last if Norris forces them to throw four innings each time out. He will be tested to go toe-to-toe Sale.
Baltimore Orioles (w/ career stats against Sale)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||2-for-8, .250 BA, 1 2B, 1 BB|
|1B Steve Pearce (R)||0-for-3, .000 BA|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO|
|LF Nelson Cruz (R)||5-for-11, .455 BA, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 SO|
|DH Delmon Young (R)||4-for-12, .333 BA, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 SO|
|SS J.J. Hardy (R)||2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 SO|
|3B Chris Davis (L)||0-for-1, .000 BA|
|C Caleb Joseph (R)||2-for-2, 1.000 BA, 1 2B|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (R)||1-for-3, .333 BA|
I'm not gonna lie, those numbers against Chicago's starter are pretty impressive, especially the middle of the order. But of course, he is a beast so those numbers are bound to change.
The only guy on the bench with any experience against Sale is David Lough. He is 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Yikes!
Chicago White Sox (w/ career stats against Norris)
|LF Alejandro De Aza (L)||2-for-6, .333 BA, 1 SO|
|SS Alexei Ramirez (R)||2-for-6, .333 BA|
|1B Jose Abreu (R)||none|
|DH Adam Dunn (L)||3-for-9, .333 BA, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 SO|
|RF Avisail Garcia (R)||none|
|3B Conor Gillaspie (L)||4-for-5, .800 BA|
|C Tyler Flowers (R)||none|
|CF Jordan Danks (L)||1-for-2, .500 BA|
|2B Gordon Beckham (R)||0-for-3, .000 BA, 1 SO|
The White Sox are a decent offensive club. They rank sixth in the AL in runs scored, fifth in home runs, fifth in batting average. And as a team, they perform well at home with a 31-29 record in the friendly confines. Tonight, it looks like they will only need a small offensive surge to win.
On the bench: Dayan Viciedo (2-for-5 with a double and triple against Norris), Paul Konerko (1-for-3), Leury Garcia (0-for-2, with a walk and two strikeouts), Adrian Nieto (none)