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Apr 11, 2024 6:11 pm

Reds, host White Sox looking for consistency on offense

Gavin Sheets

Shut out four times in their first 10 games, the Chicago White Sox have erupted for 13 runs over their past two contests.

With lineup regulars Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert Jr. all occupying the injured list, the White Sox will take contributions from any corner.

First baseman/designated hitter Gavin Sheets has been the one delivering lately as Chicago prepares for Friday’s series opener against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

Sheets boasts two multi-hit games in his past three starts, including a three-hit, five-RBI effort in Wednesday’s 7-6, 10-inning loss at Cleveland.

“Just feel good. Just feel confident. I feel offensive,” Sheets said. “Just taking more aggressive swings than I probably ever have in my career. So just trying to feed off that. That’s the biggest thing, you know. Last year, I feel like I was just lost. So just to have a swing I’m confident with and be aggressive and trust the work this offseason and just continue to put in the time.”

As with the White Sox, the Reds were idle on Thursday, although their open date wasn’t initially on the schedule. Cincinnati’s home matinee against the Milwaukee Brewers was rained out and will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Aug. 30.

The Reds can attest to searching for consistency at the plate. After outslugging the Brewers 10-8 in Monday’s series opener, Cincinnati went just 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position in losing the next two games.

Stuart Fairchild (RBI single) and Elly De La Cruz (solo home run) produced the lone runs in Wednesday’s 7-2 defeat. The Reds were held to four hits, but it wasn’t enough for manager David Bell to tweak the lineup for change’s sake.

“I’m not looking to spark anything. I trust our guys. I trust where we are, you know,” Bell said. “We’re going to continue to play better. There’s no question. But yeah, I’m not looking to do that. I mean, guys are working hard every single day to continue to get better and get locked in if they’re not swinging the bat, if they’re not hot right now. And that’s all we can do.”

Right-hander Chris Flexen gets the start for Chicago as he tries for his first victory with the White Sox. Flexen (0-2, 5.91 ERA) is coming off a loss 3-2 Saturday in Kansas City, when he scattered three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.

The veteran allowed two hits to start the game before retiring 12 consecutive Royals batters.

Flexen has faced Cincinnati just once in his career, while pitching for the New York Mets as a rookie on Aug. 29, 2017. He took the loss after spacing seven runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings with four walks.

Reds lefty Andrew Abbott (0-1, 3.48) will start as scheduled with Cincinnati electing to skip Nick Martinez after Thursday’s rainout.

Abbott took the loss against the Mets on Sunday after spacing three runs (two earned) and seven hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out four.

Abbott hasn’t faced the White Sox in his career but is 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA in five career interleague starts, including a victory against Chicago’s American League Central rivals, the Cleveland Guardians.

–Field Level Media

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