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Preview: Athletics (61-82) at White Sox (67-74)
Venue: U.S. Cellular Field
Date: September 14, 2015 8:10 PM EDT
Sonny Gray has consistently been among the majors’ best road pitchers this season, while John Danks has excelled on his home mound in the second half.
The two face off Monday night when Danks’ Chicago White Sox begin a four-game series with the Oakland Athletics.
Though both teams are well behind in the playoff chase and nearing the end of disappointing seasons, each of Monday’s starters delivered positive results in their last outing.
Danks (7-12, 4.60 ERA) takes his first turn since throwing a season-high 121 pitches during a complete game in a 12-1 win at Kansas City Sept. 4. The veteran left-hander had posted a 6.50 ERA in losing his previous three starts.
“He had a little extra giddy up on the fastball, it felt like,” catcher Tyler Flowers told MLB’s official website. “He had pretty good command of that pitch.”
Only one of those defeats came at U.S. Cellular Field, where Danks is 2-1 with a 1.14 ERA in five starts after the All-Star break.
Gray (13-7, 2.28) ended a winless stretch of his own by tossing seven innings in Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over Houston. The All-Star had been 0-3 with a 4.32 ERA over his prior four starts.
The Oakland ace sports the AL’s second-lowest ERA and owns a 1.72 mark on the road, tied with the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta for tops in the majors.
Gray, who’s 8-3 in 14 road starts, yielded two earned runs in seven innings to win his lone U.S. Cellular Field appearance on Sept. 8, 2014.
He’ll face a White Sox lineup that was held to five hits by Kyle Gibson and two relievers in Sunday’s 7-0 loss to Minnesota that dropped Chicago (67-74) to 2-4 on its 10-game homestand. Jose Abreu went 1 for 13 for the series after homering in two straight games.
Oakland (61-82) has dropped eight of 11 and ensured its first losing season since 2011 with Sunday’s 12-4 defeat at Texas. A’s pitchers surrendered four homers, with Felix Doubront allowing three in 4 1-3 innings.
‘We’re just trying to win as many games as we can,’ manager Bob Melvin said.
Oakland starters have a combined 7.20 ERA in four games following Gray’s gem.
The A’s also haven’t had much success in this series, losing seven of the last eight matchups and suffering a three-game sweep at home in mid-May. Danks won the middle game of that series by yielding two runs and three hits over seven innings in Chicago’s 4-3 victory.
Danks is 7-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 12 starts against Oakland, including a 5-2 mark with a 2.24 ERA in eight at home.
Danny Valencia, who had a two-run triple Sunday and has 14 RBIs over his last 11 games, is 8 for 27 with a homer off Danks.