Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Series preview: Red Sox at White Sox
By Doug Padilla
Jake Peavy has a 2.13 ERA in two starts this season with the Red Sox.
CHICAGO -- The early-season tests only get harder for the Chicago White Sox as the World Series champion Boston Red Sox roll into U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday for a three-game series.
Along with the opportunity to measure themselves against last year's best, this series also represents the return of Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski.
The sometimes contentious battery mates on the South Side came to Boston from different routes. Peavy was traded to Boston on July 30 of last year as the White Sox roster reshaping began in earnest. A three-team deal, that also included the Detroit Tigers, had Peavy going to Boston, Avisail Garcia going to the White Sox and infielder Jose Iglesias going to Detroit.
In an odd twist, it is the youngsters Garcia and Iglesias who are out with injuries, while the often-injured Peavy is going strong with a 2.13 ERA in the early part of the season.
Pierzynski signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox this offseason after finishing up a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers last season. The durable catcher played in another 134 games last season, while collecting 529 at-bats. He batted a solid .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs. In 11 games this year, he is batting .314 with one home run and four RBIs.
While the setting might look the same to both former White Sox players, the product on the field will certainly require a double-take. Aside from stretches in 2012, the White Sox have struggled to put runners on base and to deliver the clutch hit. The 2014 White Sox have been the antithesis of that.
Heading into Tuesday night's series opener, the White Sox lead all of baseball in runs scored with 80, on-base percentage at .356 and are second in OPS at .816. Alexei Ramirez leads the AL in hitting with a .420 batting average, a whopping 35 points higher than the next closest player, the Minnesota Tiwns' Jason Kubel. Ramirez also leads in hits (21) and OPS (1.143).
Peavy will pitch in the series opener Tuesday and after his outing is finished he can resume his friendship with a number of players on the White Sox. Starting Wednesday he will get a chance to watch his old buddies from his former rotation take the mound.
"I told Chris Sale, 'I know you wanted Old Man Peavy but you're going to get our left-hander [Jon Lester] Thursday night," Sale told ESPNBoston.com. "If you want to be the best left-hander in the league, you got to surpass this guy that we're throwing at you.
"Chris Sale is such a good kid, one of my dear, dear buddies. I pull for him, keep in contact with him on a weekly basis. I tried to be the best role model I could be, the best friend I could be period. He's young, kind of in the same place I was. He had a son at a very young age, we kind of walked through the same path of life. Both from the South, him Florida, me Alabama, we hit it off.
"Johnny Danks, the same way. The three of us are really close."
Pierzynski remains a fan favorite on the South Side, and his bond to Chicago, which started in 2005, remains strong.
"I don't think you can beat Chicago in a lot of things," Pierzynski said. "Lake Shore Drive is about as good as it gets. The city's clean. Nice people, they look out for you and take care of you."
Paul Konerko could start in Wednesday's game, especially since Clay Buchholz will be on the mound for the Red Sox. Konerko is 7-for-15 (.467) lifetime against the left-hander with a home run, three RBIs and two walks. ... The Red Sox's Mike Napoli has 27 career at-bats against Danks, who is scheduled to start Wednesday, and has 13 strikeouts with a .222 batting average. ... Peavy and Adam Dunn are good friends. So how have they fared against each other? Dunn is 5-for-11 with two doubles in his last three games against Peavy, but just 5-for-31 with 11 strikeouts lifetime.
Alexei Ramirez has a hit in all 13 White Sox games this season and needs a hit in two more games to tie Frank Thomas' club record for longest hit streak to open a season. ... White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton has multiple hits in five consecutive games, the longest such streak for the team since Alex Rios did the same in 2012. ... Conor Gillaspie is on an 11-game hitting streak. ... Jose Abreu has four home runs and 14 RBIs for the White Sox, but is just 1-for-11 over his past three games. ... Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedrioa (wrist) and closer Koji Uehara (shoulder) are day to day. ... The Red Sox won last year's series 4-2 and have won 12 of the past 16 games played between the teams going back to 2011.
Tuesday: Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy (0-0, 2.13 ERA) will face White Sox right-hander Erik Johnson (0-1, 9.58).
Wednesday: Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz (0-1, 6.97) will face White Sox left-hander John Danks (1-0, 4.15).
Thursday: Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester (1-2, 2.57) will face White Sox left-hander Chris Sale (3-0, 2.66).