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Series preview: Giants at White Sox

6/17/2014

CHICAGO – The challenges only get tougher for the struggling Chicago White Sox as the team with the best record in baseball comes to town.

The San Francisco Giants will open a brief two-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night, carrying a 43-27 record into the game, one full game better than Oakland’s 42-28 mark.

The White Sox have lost four consecutive games and seven of their last nine, as a once thriving offense has hit a snag. The White Sox managed to get runners on base during this past weekend’s sweep by the Kansas City Royals, but they had just three hits with runners in scoring position during the three games.

The two games against the Giants mark the end of a scheduled nine-game homestand. One game was rained out, leaving the White Sox with a 2-4 record in their own ballpark since last Monday.

The idea was that the White Sox could get healthy during a string of home games before departing on a three-city, 11-game trip that starts Thursday and will take them to Minnesota, Baltimore and Toronto. Another issue is that the White Sox are starting a string 16 consecutive games without a day off.

The next two-plus weeks will provide a stern test for the White Sox’s much-improved bullpen, which has a 2.56 ERA since May 26 (17 games).

HEAD TO HEAD

The Giants’ Marco Scutaro is 7-for-13 (.538) with two home runs in his career against White Sox starter John Danks. … The only Giants players with an at-bat against White Sox starter Chris Sale are Gregor Blanco and Michael Morse, with Morse going 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. … Adam Dunn is 6-for-20 (.300) with two home runs against Giants starter Matt Cain. Adam Eaton is 0-for-8 against Cain, but he does have five walks. … Dunn is 11-for-34 (.324) with four home runs against Giants starter Tim Hudson, while Paul Konerko is 7-for-19 (.368) against him with one home run. Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-5 against Hudson with a double and two walks.

NOTES

The White Sox are 8-8 in interleague play this season, but just 3-5 in home games against National League teams. … The White Sox are now a season-high four games under .500 at 33-37. … The White Sox have been swept twice in their past three series by the Los Angeles Angels and the Kansas City Royals. … The White Sox left 32 runners on base during the sweep by the Royals. … Eaton has been hot, reaching base in 11 consecutive games, including all five trips to the plate Friday and four out of his five trips Sunday. He has three triples in his last six games. … Reliever Zach Putnam has a 0.86 ERA over his last 17 outings (15 scoreless). … After taking a foul ball off the mask twice in in a five-day stretch, Giants catcher Buster Posey was removed from Sunday’s game. … White Sox starters Sale and Jose Quintana know all about the issues Cain has been going through, as the right-hander has pitched well but has received minimal run support since April 23.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Tuesday: LHP John Danks (5-5, 4.17 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Cain (1-4, 3.84), 7:10 p.m. CST

Wednesday: LHP Chris Sale (5-1, 1.97) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (7-2, 1.81), 1:10 p.m. CST