Sox hope to put West Coast woes in past
Chicago (57-55) at Seattle (58-53), 9:10 p.m. CT
CHICAGO -- When the White Sox were routinely getting knocked around on the West Coast back at the beginning of this decade, whether it was in Seattle, Oakland or Anaheim, Gordon Beckham was just getting ready to begin high school.
So, the rookie third baseman was left searching for an answer when asked about the team's lack of success moving into the Pacific Time Zone, as the White Sox embark on a six-game road trip in that direction on Monday night at Safeco Field.
"No, I haven't heard anything. We struggle out there? Great," said Beckham with a smile. "Hopefully we'll skip that trend this time."
Since the 2001 season, the White Sox have posted an 11-22 mark in Seattle. As for Oakland, the White Sox hold a stunningly dismal 6-27 record in this particular venue.
The good news for the White Sox is that they finished with 2-1 records in each respective road city in 2008, so maybe that West Coast jinx has been cut into by Chicago under Ozzie Guillen's watch. Regardless of where they are playing, the White Sox understand that they can't afford tough series setbacks as they suffered this past weekend at home against Cleveland.
This marathon-like 162-game schedule has been reduced to a 50-game sprint for the White Sox, starting their run three games behind the Tigers, who travel to Boston for four games to begin the week.
"Every game matters at this point," said White Sox setup man Scott Linebrink of the importance built into this West Coast trip. "We're trying to keep pace with Detroit, so we want to take every game we can."
"We have to win games to get in the playoffs," said Beckham, in a very matter-of-fact, understated tone. "It's coming down to where we have to start winning games and we will."
Gavin Floyd takes the mound for the White Sox on Monday, and he seems to be the perfect man at the trip's outset. With Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Jose Contreras struggling, and the White Sox in search of a consistent fifth starter until Jake Peavy's return, Floyd has been the rotation's steadying force.
In his past 14 starts, the right-hander has posted a 7-2 record with a 2.24 ERA, covering 100 2/3 innings. The White Sox will go without a fifth starter on this road trip because Thursday's off-day keeps the starters on regular rest.
During a three-game set played at U.S. Cellular Field on Aug. 28 (doubleheader) and Aug. 29, the White Sox won twice. Felix Hernandez beat the South Siders, and he will start Wednesday night's series finale against Buehrle.
Last year's season series went to the White Sox in a rather easy 5-1 fashion, with the White Sox even winning at Safeco Field. That successful style is what the White Sox would like to copy this week, as opposed to their 0-5 showing in Seattle in 2007.
"We have to go out and play hard and play like our hair is on fire," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski of the road trip. "Bring some energy. It was a down day, a blah day [on Sunday], and we couldn't find a way to pick it up and go."
"It's a big one, like always," Guillen said. "We haven't played well there in the past and there's a reason. Every time we went to Oakland, we got [Barry] Zito and [Mark] Mulder and [Tim] Hudson. Lots of people had a hard time going there. Now, it's a different scenario. Every game for us is big, I don't care where we're playing."Pitching matchup
CWS: RHP Gavin Floyd (9-6, 3.91 ERA)
Floyd was masterful in his last outing, a 6-2 victory against the Angels on Wednesday night. He lasted eight-plus innings, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on six hits while striking out six and walking one. White Sox manager Guillen made a mound visit to Floyd with two outs in the eighth with two runners on and Floyd having thrown 96 pitches. Guillen decided to leave Floyd in the contest, and the move paid off. Floyd struck out Bobby Abreu to end the eighth. Floyd is 1-2 with a 7.15 ERA against the Mariners lifetime in six games (four starts). SEA: LHP Lucas French (2-2, 3.93 ERA)
As debuts go, the left-hander acquired from the Tigers a few hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline had a real good one in the strike-throwing department. Of the 89 pitches he threw against the Royals, 61 of them were strikes. French pitched ahead in the count most of the game. Two of the nine hits he allowed were first-pitch home runs with a runner on base. This will be his first career outing against the White Sox, and he has not faced anyone on the Sox current roster. Tidbits
Guillen said before Sunday's game that he might try to use Carlos Torres, Saturday's starter, in a long-relief role. But Torres was unavailable on Sunday, and probably Monday, after throwing 72 pitches over 3 1/3 innings on Saturday. He could be a replacement candidate on the West Coast if Guillen feels like the bullpen needs a fresh arm. ... Linebrink has a 6.75 ERA since the All-Star break, but doesn't attribute his struggles to overwork. Quite the contrary, actually. "In my case, personally, I don't think it's a matter of being out there enough," Linebrink said. "That's going to happen from time to time. We've been getting some great starts out of the starting pitchers. I've just got to use the time out there to get back on track. I've been a little off here lately." ... The White Sox slipped to 24-27 against the American League Central and 33-27 at home. They are 12-12 since the All-Star break. ... Pierzynski is hitting .452 in his past eight games. ... Alexei Ramirez is hitting .394 vs. lefties this season. ... The White Sox averaged 33,094 fans in attendance over the 10-game homestand. Tickets
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Tuesday: White Sox (John Danks, 9-8, 4.23) at Mariners (Doug Fister, 0-0, 0.00), 9:10 p.m. CT
Wednesday: White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 11-6, 3.89) at Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 12-4, 2.84), 9:10 p.m. CT
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.