(AP) — The Chicago White Sox are in the midst of a rough patch, and things might not get easier as they travel to Seattle and face Felix Hernandez and the Mariners.
Seeking a third straight winning decision, Hernandez takes the mound for the Seattle Mariners looking to extend his scoreless innings streak against Chicago at Safeco Field as the teams open a three-game set Friday night.
After going 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in his first four starts this season, Hernandez (3-2, 3.21) has thrived in his three most recent outings, going 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA and striking out 22 in 20 2-3 innings.
The hard-throwing right-hander allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings and struck out a season-best 10 but didn’t factor in the decision of his most recent appearance, a 3-2 loss at Boston on Sunday.
Last year’s AL Cy Young winner has limited the White Sox (11-21) to eight hits over 15 scoreless innings in his last two starts in the series at home, striking out 18 over that span.
Manager Ozzie Guillen’s club, which has averaged just 2.5 runs en route to losing 17 of 21 overall, has been slumping even worse on the road. The White Sox have scored 2.1 runs per game during a 3-8 stretch away from home and likely aren’t looking forward to facing Hernandez.
“To win the Cy Young with (13) wins you have to be very good,” Guillen told MLB.com about his fellow Venezuela native. “It was great for our country. A little good news is great news. This kid was impressive, you don’t see many Cy Youngs won that way.”
After failing to record a hit in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Minnesota, the last-place White Sox fell 3-2 on Wednesday. They sit 11 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland.
“A win would bring a smile to your face, a couple would be better,” infielder Omar Vizquel said. “It’s a continuation. You can’t expect to turn things around in one or two games. You got to play a whole week of good baseball.”
Chicago has a chance to do that starting with this series, as it has taken four straight and nine of 10 from Seattle – including a home win over Hernandez.
The White Sox, who held the Mariners (15-17) to a total of a three runs while taking two of three at Safeco last season, turn to Phil Humber (2-3, 3.06) on Friday.
Humber has surrendered just four hits and compiled a 1.29 ERA during his last two outings spanning 14 innings. The right-hander gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings of Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Baltimore.
“As far as personally, I wanted to go deep into the game and kind of keep us in it,” Humber said. “I felt like I pitched well the last time out and any time you get on a roll, you want to keep it going.”
Humber will try to slow down a Mariners team that has won seven of nine, including Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Texas. First baseman Justin Smoak continued his hot hitting, going 3 for 4 with a home run. He is batting .349 with four homers and 14 RBIs in his last 11 games.
“I love the fact he’s up there hitting,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s not up there trying to do too much. … He’s trusting his approach, he’s trusting his hands and when you do that and have ability good things are going to happen over time.”
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