Meanwhile, Jered Weaver continues to dominate

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Meanwhile, Jered Weaver continues to dominate

From Comcast SportsNet
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver gave the Los Angeles Angels all the relief they needed. Weaver pitched a four-hitter for his major-league leading 15th victory, and the Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0 on Monday night to overtake the final spot in the crowded AL wild card standings. After a burned-out bullpen was taxed while losing four of the previous five, the Angels ace gave the staff a much-needed night off. "He's one of the best," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "And that's what the best do." Weaver (15-1) struck out nine, walked none and faced the minimum through 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander has won nine straight and a career-best 10 consecutive decisions since his only loss of the season May 13 against Texas, ranking second in franchise history to Jarrod Washburn, who won 12 consecutive decisions in 2002. "There's really no answer," Weaver said about his impressive run. "Things have been going my way." Erick Aybar singled three times and scored twice in his first game back from the disabled list to move Los Angeles (59-51) ahead of Oakland (58-51) and Baltimore (58-51) by one victory. Detroit (59-50) is in line for the other wild card spot. Jarrod Parker (7-6) allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked one in Oakland's third straight loss and major-league leading 13th shutout this season. "Jered did his job on the other side and I just needed to be better," Parker said. "When I start to aim that's when I get into trouble." All the offense Weaver wanted came in typical Angels fashion. Kendrys Morales doubled leading off the second and scored on a two-out single by Aybar, who had been on the disabled list since July 22 with a broken big toe on his right foot. Mike Trout singled home Aybar two batters later to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. Trout also stole second in the first, second and eighth innings to extend his franchise record to 27 straight steals without being caught. He leads the majors with 36 stolen bases. "He wreaks havoc out there," Parker said. The Angels center fielder also singled to open the fifth but was called out sliding head-first into second on right fielder Josh Reddick's 13th assist. Trout immediately hopped up, furiously waving his hands and screaming at second base umpire Bill Miller in protest. Trout had to be restrained by both base coaches and manager Mike Scioscia. In the end, the only motions that mattered came on the mound. Weaver worked his way through the A's lineup with relative ease, facing the minimum through 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander erased the only base runner during that time -- a single by Brandon Inge leading off the bottom of the third -- when he got Eric Sogard to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Angels ace struck out the side in the fifth despite allowing a one-out single to Brandon Moss and didn't allow a runner on second until the sixth, when Eric Sogard reached on a groundout to second and advanced on Coco Crisp's ground out. Jemile Weeks popped up too short to end the inning. "You always want that lead dog," Scioscia said of Weaver. "And Weave is that lead dog." After consecutive singles by Aybar and Chris Iannetta in the seventh, Torii Hunter lined a two-run single up the middle to extend the Angels' lead to 4-0 and give Weaver more than enough room for error. Weaver now 11 career complete games and three this season, including a no-hitter against Minnesota on May 2. "He's extremely frustrating," A's catcher Derek Norris said. The one hitter Weaver never had to face has made all the difference for Oakland this season. Yoenis Cespedes did not start for the second time in three games as he recovers from a right wrist sprain. After sitting out Saturday, he went 0 for 4 on Sunday, and A's manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes' wrist bothered the outfielder in his final two at-bats. Cespedes is day to day. The A's are 46-29 when Cespedes starts and 12-22 when he doesn't. NOTES: The Angels optioned SS Andrew Romine to Triple-A Salt Lake to clear space for Aybar on the roster. ... Oakland SS Cliff Pennington (left elbow) was scheduled to play three more games with Triple-A Sacramento and could rejoin the A's by the weekend. ... Oakland RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.55 ERA) takes the mound opposite against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson (9-7, 3.27 ERA) on Tuesday.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chris Sale returns to Chicago

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chris Sale returns to Chicago

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Carman (WGN Radio), Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune) and Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report) join Mark Schanowski on the panel.

Chris Sale is back in town. Do the White Sox miss their old ace?

Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta’s agent defends his client’s velocity drop. Does he have a point?

Plus LeBron James talks about his legacy, Tiger Woods’ fall from grace continues and the panel remembers legendary sportswriter Frank Deford.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Is the White Sox run differential a sign of better things to come?

Is the White Sox run differential a sign of better things to come?

From a record standpoint, the White Sox are maybe slightly above where most expected them to be this season.

From a run differential standpoint, the White Sox are way above any expectation.

After Monday’s 5-4 win against the Red Sox, the White Sox improved to 24-26 on the season. Impressively, the Sox have a plus-28 run differential, which is good for third-best in the American League.

The two AL teams higher than the White Sox in the category are both first-place teams. Houston is 36-16 with a whopping plus-74 differential while the Yankees are 29-19 and come in at plus-57.

The White Sox have the best run differential in the AL Central. The division-leading Twins (26-21) actually have a negative run differential at minus-7. The Twins are one of two teams with a negative run differential and a winning record (Baltimore is 26-23 with a minus-6 differential).

There are 15 teams in Major League Baseball with positive run differentials and the White Sox are the only team in that group more than one game under .500.

So what does that mean? Well, for one it could be a positive sign that the White Sox are actually a better team than their record. More plainly, it means the White Sox are winning games by bigger margins than they are losing them.

Monday’s win improved the White Sox record in one-run games to 5-7. The Sox are also 2-4 in two-run games and 3-5 in three-run games. That's a 10-16 mark in games decided by three runs or less. Meanwhile, in games decided by four runs or more the White Sox are 14-10.

What’s even stranger about the lack of success in close games is that the White Sox have the fourth best ERA among relievers in MLB.

May isn’t quite over yet so things can still even out in one direction or another, but these are certainly some odd numbers.