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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Apr 26, 2024 6:22 am

Skidding White Sox aim to begin turnaround vs. Rays

chicago white sox

The Tampa Bay Rays and the host Chicago White Sox occupy last place in their respective divisions entering the opener of a three-game series on Friday.

One major difference between the clubs? Optimism. The Rays own a .500 record, have 10 more wins than the reeling White Sox and face only a four-game deficit in the American League East.

The White Sox have scored just 56 runs while losing 22 of their first 25 games, the worst start in franchise history. They have matched the worst 25-game opening by any team since 1995, when the wild-card era began.

Tampa Bay had a day to rest after rallying Wednesday to avoid taking its first series sweep of the season.

Rookie Curtis Mead blasted a go-ahead, two-run home run in the sixth inning to propel the Rays, who scored three runs in the inning en route to a 7-5 victory against the visiting Detroit Tigers.

Mead acknowledged his first extra-base hit of the year and second career homer “couldn’t come at a better moment.” Now, he hopes the blast can steer him toward more heroics.

“I definitely think that it just takes the weight off the shoulders a little bit, not searching for the first one of the year,” Mead said. “So hopefully they all start rolling from here.”

Randy Arozarena also homered for the Rays, who erupted after being outscored 11-3 as they dropped the first two games of the series to the Tigers.

The White Sox are waiting for such a boost. They return home for a six-game homestand on the heels of a winless seven-game trip to Philadelphia and Minnesota in which they were shut out twice.

Chicago loaded the bases and brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth inning on Thursday but lost 6-3 to the Twins when Andrew Vaughn hit a game-ending groundout.

“I think it’s just about playing complete baseball,” White Sox pitcher Michael Soroka said. “Teams that I’ve been on that have won a lot of games — whether it’s the minor leagues or the major leagues — it seems to be more often than not everybody is playing a complete game. We pitch well, hit well, play defense well.

“Again, it just kind of seems like right now it’s one thing or another that we just can’t quite piece together to play that complete game. I believe things will turn around. I think this group is definitely making the effort to do that.”

Tampa Bay’s Zach Eflin (1-2, 3.68 ERA) will aim to keep the White Sox down. The right-hander enters his Friday outing coming off back-to-back scoreless starts of at least six innings.

Eflin is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career appearances against the White Sox, including two starts in April 2023. He took a no-decision at Chicago last April 28, allowing two runs and six hits in five innings.

Chris Flexen (0-3, 6.41 ERA) is set to get the call for Chicago as he returns to the rotation. Flexen shifted to the bullpen after three frustrating starts to begin the season. He then tossed four shutout innings at Philadelphia on April 19 and pitched 2 1/3 innings of one-run relief on Monday in Minnesota.

Flexen is 1-2 with a 4.96 ERA in three career starts against the Rays.

–Field Level Media

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