Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011Posted: 11:03 a.m.
While the AL's other two second-place teams remain in serious playoff contention, the Chicago White Sox are falling out of the picture in the Central.
The White Sox try to avoid falling behind the Cleveland Indians for second place in the Central as they continue their series Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago (72-71) won Thursday's series opener 8-1 before losing 8-4 on Friday, as the Indians snapped a four-game skid. If the White Sox lose again Saturday, Cleveland (71-71) would move past them for second place, but that seems immaterial.
Chicago is 9 12 games behind division-leading Detroit, while the Indians are 10 out. By comparison, the second place teams in both the AL East and West - Boston and Los Angeles, respectively - are 2 12 games out of first.
"Mathematically we are not out of it," said Mark Buehrle, Friday's losing pitcher for Chicago. "But if you watch what is going on and see how good Detroit is playing and see us going in streaks, I don't like our chances. But at the same time, we have to go out there and we got to keep on playing."
Both the White Sox and Indians were in the thick of the Central race when they last met in mid-August. Fausto Carmona (6-14, 5.18 ERA) put together one of his best starts of the year in that series, but hasn't had much luck since.
Carmona allowed one run and four hits in a season-high 8 1-3 innings of a 4-1 win at Chicago on Aug. 17. He gave up two runs in six innings against light-hitting Seattle his next time out, but is 0-2 with a 9.88 ERA in three starts since. The right-hander was tagged for seven runs and eight hits in 1 1-3 innings - his shortest start since Sept. 9, 2009 - in a 10-1 loss to Detroit on Tuesday.
Carmona has been hit-or-miss against the White Sox in his career, going 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine of his starts, but 0-4 with a 14.34 ERA in his other five.
Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko, 4 for 11 with six RBIs in his last three games, is batting .389 with two homers and a double in 18 career at-bats against Carmona.
Philip Humber (9-8, 3.45) takes the ball for the White Sox hoping to build on his first win in two months.
Humber gave up six hits and struck out six without a walk in seven shutout innings of a 2-1 win over Minnesota on Monday, his first victory since July 2. The right-hander was making his first start since Aug. 18, when he was struck above the right eye by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland's Kosuke Fukudome in the second inning.
"It feels like a year since I've had a win. It was a great feeling to have some success," said Humber, who had been 0-4 with a 7.16 ERA in his final six starts before Fukudome's liner landed him on the DL. "Hopefully, I can build off this."
Fukudome had two hits and two RBIs on Friday, and is batting .471 with four RBIs in his last four games against Chicago.
Teammate Lonnie Chisenhall hit a pair of two-run homers off Buehrle on Friday. It was an encouraging performance for the rookie third baseman, who came in 3 for 22 against left-handers.
"Lonnie Chisenhall had a big day, especially considering the way he has struggled against lefties," manager Manny Acta said. "The more he sees (lefties), the better he's going to get."
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