May 30, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski (12) is safe at home as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Molina (28) attempted to tag him out in the third inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

A Look Ahead

Rays at White Sox Preview

Let’s be honest. Every game is a must win at this point for the final series with Baltimore to have any relevance. Let’s take a look at the upcoming matchups and series preview with the White Sox. The Rays have been playing well as of late to a tune of 13-9 in September alone. The Rays have also posted a .264 batting average, 5.2 runs per game and a 3.21 ERA throughout September and are rolling on a 7 game win streak. Meanwhile the White Sox are struggling to win lately while locked into a tight division race of their own. Over the last 8 games alone the White Sox are 1-7, while sporting a .227 batting average, .133 with RISP, and 2.5 runs per game while allowing 35 runs. The pitching matchups look favorable for the Rays at this point with the exception of the Moore/Sale matchup especially considering the way they typically play in September.

Game 1 Shields vs. Peavy
15-9, 3.65 ERA…..11-12, 3.40 ERA
This game should be a precursor for the entire series. This should be a grind it out pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers are playing well this season with Shields having back to back 200+ strikeout seasons. No doubt Shields has been a rock for the Rays the last few seasons. The often injured Peavy has finally put together a complete season for the White Sox with 200+ IP and 180 SO to date. This game should be a fairly low scoring affair.
Prediction: Rays

Game 2 Hellickson vs. Floyd
9-10, 3.20 ERA…..10-11, 4.56 ERA
This matchup favors the Rays in my opinion slightly. Hellickson’s strikeouts are up and walks are down this season overall. Not to mention he’s been consistent for the Rays all year. Floyd on the other hand has his highest ERA over the last 5 seasons, while still posting similar K/9 & BB/9 as his career numbers.
Prediction: Rays

Game 3 Moore vs. Sale
10-11, 3.92 ERA…..17-7, 2.86 ERA
This game will be the difficult game for the Rays. Moore has been struggling over his last 3 starts being unable to make it out of the 4th inning all 3 times. Moore also had his start pushed back most likely to give him an extra day of rest. Don’t get me wrong Moore has proven he can pitch in the AL East without fail and has had an excellent season but may be burnt out this late in the year. Chris Sale on the other hand is having a huge season for the White Sox and is one of David Price’s biggest competitors for the AL Cy Young this year. Now that Sale has been converted to a full time starter he has come into his own while pitching a career high 188+ IP & 185 SO and hasn’t given up more than 3 runs over his last 4 starts. This is the one game the Rays will have to get creative to manufacture runs.
Prediction: White Sox

Game 4 Price vs. Liriano
19-5, 2.56 ERA…..6-12, 5.34 ERA
This is where the Rays should be able to dominate. Price has pitched as if he truly wants the Cy Young this season and has been dominant all year and is coming off a monster performance against Boston. No question the Rays have the edge in Game 4. Liriano has struggled all year and is just a shadow of the pitcher he was in 2010. While the trade for him was more of an under the radar type of pickup it didn’t do much for the struggling White Sox. This game should be a lock for the Rays.
Prediction: Rays

Tampa is still in the AL East race as well as the Wildcard race. Every game at this point becomes big. Tampa needs to take at least 3 out of 4 in the series to stay competitive in the standings.

Tags: Tampa Bay Rays

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