Pleased Thus Far
More than one month into the season, the Chicago White Sox have to be pleased that they're the only team in the AL Central with a winning record. They'll likely be even more excited when their offense and their ace return to form.
The White Sox look to break out of an offensive slump as they send Mark Buehrle to the mound on Friday in the opener of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Toronto -128 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago +118 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Chicago (14-12) has the best record in the AL Central despite ranking last in the league with a .242 team batting average. Though the White Sox lead the AL with 36 home runs, they're last with 219 hits.
General manager Ken Williams told the team's official Web site that he doesn't want his players to start worrying about the numbers.
"Just don't start looking at the (averages on the scoreboard) and start swinging outside the zone and stop getting on base," said Williams, whose club is in the middle of the league with a .335 on-base percentage despite its poor hitting. "As long as they don't panic and do what they are doing ... we are OK."
"We really have a chance for another very special season if they keep that hard-nosed, grinder-type mentality. The talent is what it is - it's there."
The talent didn't show up for Chicago's two-game series against Minnesota, during which the White Sox suffered a 3-1 loss on Tuesday and a 4-3 defeat on Wednesday. They were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"When our pitchers go out there and do a heck of a job for us, we have to score some more runs for them," said outfielder Nick Swisher, who's batting .163 (7-for-43) in his last 11 games. "And it's going to come. ... We've had plenty of opportunities to win a lot of games, and that's one thing we're going to have to work on."
Like his team's offense, Buehrle (1-2, 5.65 ERA) is trying to get back on track. The left-hander has given up 38 hits in 28 2-3 innings, allowing opponents to bat .333 against him - up from .269 last year.
Buehrle, though, settled down in his last outing, holding Baltimore to three runs and three hits in six innings of Chicago's 6-5 victory on Saturday.
Buehrle is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 career games - nine starts - against the Blue Jays. Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells, who's 1-for-24 (.042) in his last seven games, is 13-for-26 with a home run in his career against Buehrle.
Toronto (12-17) is returning home from a 2-7 road trip during which it lost series against Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Boston. The Blue Jays, however, salvaged a victory in the finale, holding off the Red Sox 3-0 on Thursday for their second win in 10 games overall.
"Just a good 'W' for us to get back on track," starter A.J. Burnett said.
Toronto hopes to build on that win as Shaun Marcum (2-2, 3.24) takes the mound seeking to avoid the first three-start losing streak of his career. The right-hander held Kansas City to two runs and four hits in seven innings of his last game - a 2-1 loss on Saturday.
Marcum is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against the White Sox, both last season.