Challenge only gets harder for White Sox

If Tyson Ross was a problem for the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, things should only get harder on Sunday when the Oakland Athetics send Trevor Cahill to the mound.

Ross can be nasty, no doubt about it. Paul Konerko's home run Saturday was the first he has allowed this season and first he has given up since June 30 of last year. Much of that time was spent in relief, though.

Cahill, on the other hand, is about as good as it gets in the American League and the White Sox have faced some pretty good ones already this season.

At the start of play Saturday, Cahill led the AL in ERA at 1.72, was second in opponents’ slugging percentage at .281 and was tied for second in victories at six. He not only is 6-0 his season, he has won his last seven starts dating back to last season and has a 1.53 ERA over that stretch.

If a strong ERA is any indicator of how pitchers fare against the White Sox, it could be a long day Sunday. Three of the next four pitchers behind Cahill on the ERA list -- Jered Weaver (1.87), Dan Haren (1.87) and James Shields (2.08) -- have all defeated the White Sox this season. That other pitcher -- Josh Beckett (1.99) -- hasn’t faced them yet.

If there is a sign of hope for the White Sox, it comes from an April 12 game at U.S. Cellular Field. The four runs Cahill gave up that day in a no-decision were the most he has allowed in eight starts this season. In fact, it was the only time this season that Cahill has allowed more than one run in a start.

The White Sox’s four runs that day came on a three-run home run from Alexei Ramirez and a fielder’s choice from Konerko. Cahill is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in six career starts against the White Sox and is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against the White Sox at Oakland.

Getting the call opposite Cahill is White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, who is 3-13 in his career against the A’s, but does have a 3.70 ERA against them. The 13 defeats are his third most against any team, but his most against any team outside of the AL Central. He has 18 career defeats against the Indians and 15 against the Twins.

Buehrle is just 1-7 over his career at Oakland with a 4.46 ERA. But like Cahill, Buehrle has been pitching well of late too. Over his last three starts he has given up just five earned runs combined.