Scot's letter to Bruce on the Sox
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U.S. Cellular Field hosts the first two of four games this week pitting the White Sox against the Cubs.
To: Bruce Miles
Re: White Sox/BP Cup
White-Sox Cubs scouting report
White Sox vs. Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field
TV: Comcast SportsNet, WGN today and Tuesday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM; WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Sox' Jose Quintana (3-1) vs. Jeff Samardzija (2-6) today at 6:10 p.m.; Chris Sale (5-2) vs. Edwin Jackson (1-7) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.
About the White Sox: They swept the Marlins at home over the weekend and have won 9 of 12. The Sox have won 19 of the last 27 vs. the Cubs and 11 of the 15 series at the Cell. Samardzija hit Paul Konerko in the face with a pitch in the first game between the city rivals last year at Wrigley Field. The two talked afterward and there is no bad blood. The White Sox swept a three-game series from the Cubs at the Cell last season. The Sox are 4-4 in interleague play this year. Konerko is 9-for-16 with a home run and 2 RBI during a four-game hitting streak. Dayan Viciedo is batting .392 in 16 games since returning from the disabled list. In his last three starts at home, Quintana is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Reliever Jesse Crain has 25 strikeouts in his last 181⁄3 innings.
About the Cubs: Sunday's victory at Cincinnati snapped a six-game losing streak for a reeling Cubs squad. The Cubs are 2-1 in interleague play this year, having played the Texas Rangers. They entered Sunday leading the National League in errors (38) which had led to 20 unearned runs. An astounding 43 of the Cubs' 49 games have been decided by 4 or fewer runs. The Cubs entered Sunday 12th in the NL in on-base percentage and last in walks. First baseman Anthony Rizzo appears to be coming out of a slump, which saw him go 0-for-23 at one point. This week will mark the first time the Cubs will play the same team on consecutive days in different ballparks since 1990, when they did so against the New York Mets.
Next: White Sox-Cubs at Wrigley Field, Wednesday-Thursday
— Scot Gregor, Bruce Miles
There's a TV on my desk in the U.S. Cellular Field press box, so you're more than welcome to drop by Monday night and watch the Blackhawks-Red Wings in Game 6.
Let's face it, the remote action on the ice is going to be much more entertaining than the live baseball on the field below.
But, like you said, at least the White Sox and the Cubs only go at it four times this season, a welcome reduction.
In fairness to the Sox (24-24), they are easily playing their best baseball of the season, and a weekend sweep of the Miami Marlins puts them back at .500 for the first time since April 10, when they were 4-4.
While they won't come right out and admit it, the White Sox plan to fatten up even more on the North Siders this week.
"I want to win, I don't care who it is, where they're at," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Even (over the weekend), you see a team that's had a tough start like Miami. It doesn't matter. You still have to go out and try to win. You feel just as good winning those games as you do any other ones."
If the Cubs are planning to end their seven-game losing streak this week, here are some things they should know about the White Sox:
•The starters are tough, especially Chris Sale.
The ace left-hander was scratched from his last start against the Boston Red Sox last week, but Sale says his sore left shoulder is feeling much better and he will be ready to roll Tuesday night.
That's bad news for the Cubs.
Over his last 2 starts — both against the Los Angeles Angels — Sale pitched 162⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits while striking out 19.
The 24-year-old pitcher is particularly tough at home, where he's 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 4 starts this year.
If the Cubs are going to get Sale, it has to be early. Once he calms down and gets on a roll, forget it.
•The front end of the bullpen can be had.
Addison Reed added a nasty slider this year and has quickly developed into of the top closers in baseball with 17 saves in 18 attempts.
Jesse Crain is healthy and, like Reed, the veteran right-hander has earned serious all-star consideration while rattling off 20 straight scoreless appearances.
After that, the White Sox' bullpen has been spotty at best, and control issues have plagued Nate Jones, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom and Brian Omogrosso.
With John Danks back from a yearlong absence due to shoulder surgery, Hector Santiago is back in the 'pen, and he's a positive addition.
•Expect close games.
The Sox might have swept the woeful Marlins, but the first 2 wins required walk-off hits from Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie, and they won Sunday 5-3.
Tight games have become the norm for the White Sox this season, and 39 of their 48 games (81 percent) have been decided by 3 runs or fewer.
"For us, close games, that's just the way we play games," Ventura said. "We're confident in any situation just for one reason that you have a good bullpen and you feel you can hold them and give yourself a chance to score runs. But the playing of tight games is just natural in this league. It happens all the time.
"I can't think of too many games where you go into the last inning where the team that's hitting doesn't come up with the winning run at the plate. It's just the way it is, and we're fine playing that way."
Regards, and see you on the South Side.
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