Opponent: Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 26-31, .456, 9 1/2 GB (NL West)
Place: Bank One Ball Park
Time & TV: Game 1: 8:35 p.m. (WGN); Game 2: 8:35 p.m. (FSN); Game 3: (8:35) p.m. (WCIU)
2002 Record vs Sox: 0-0
2003 Record vs Sox: 0-0
Luis Gonzalez is back, and has his average up over .300, which is not good news for a White Sox pitching staff, which was victimized by a weak hitting Indian line-up this past week. It appears that this team is finally returning to the team that came out of nowhere to beat the Yankees back in 2001, and unfortunately, the White Sox the seem to be heading the other direction. The White Sox will also be facing a former AL opponent in Shea Hillenbrand, who was traded to Arizona late last week.
WHO'S HOT (Last 4 Games)
Luis Gonzalez, OF: 9-19, 2 HR, 8RBI, 3R
--After a slow start, Luis Gonzalez is starting to look like the hero of game seven we all remember. After being mired in a 3-34 slide (.088), Gonzalez has caught fire and is again the central figure in the Diamondback line-up.
WHO'S NOT (Post-April)
Carlos Baerga, 2B: 9-51, HR, 6 RBI
--It looked as though Carlos Baerga’s career was rejuvenated after a strong showing in April, batting .409 with 12 RBIs, two homers and four doubles. Then May 1st came and away went Baerga. He has lowered his OBP from .417 to .320 and his batting average from .409 to .284. One plus is his glove is still strong as he has no committed an error in 40 games.
Esteban Loaiza (8-2, 1.96 ERA) vs. Miguel Bautista (3-3, 3.24 ERA,)
--This will be the inaugural meeting between the two teams, and it should be a pitchers duel. Bautista has been on fire, going 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA since joining the rotation in mid-April. Bautista will be opposed by possibly the best pitcher in the majors thus far, Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza will take his league-leading ERA into tonight’s game, and if these pitchers continue their current trend … it should be fun to watch.
Jon Garland (2-3, 4.88 ERA) vs. Curt Schilling (4-3, 3.04 ERA)
--The White Sox anemic offense will be facing arguably the best pitcher in the league over the past five years. Unless Jon Garland can limit the number of offensive opportunities he allows, and the offense can scratch across a few early runs, this game could get ugly.
Dan Wright (0-3, 6.57) vs. Elmer Dessens (4-5, 5.45 ERA)
--This game will pit two pitchers, that were expected to do things much greater than they currently are. Dessens was the go-to-guy in Cincinnati last year, and since coming over in an off-season trade – which was supposed to sure up a shaky end of the rotation - he has struggled. Danny Wright was supposed to build off an encouraging 14-12 season, but has not been able to due to injury. A win for either pitcher would go long ways to build their confidence. Should be interesting to watch.
KEY TO THE SERIES
Be aggressive. The Sox are six games under .500, 6.5 out and just 1.5 games above the far less talented, fourth place Indians, so if they are going to somehow raise this sinking ship, which in many eyes is already sunk, they need to take chances and make aggressive mistakes. The Diamondbacks have one of the better defensive teams in the majors. The only way to beat that is to keep the routine plays at a minimum and always keep the pressure.