Red Line Rivalry

Don’t look now but the Northsiders aren’t the only team in Chicago that’s starting to make this baseball season interesting. After having a successful double-header against the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Cubs went on to lose a heartbreaker on Wednesday night and then had a day off. The Chicago White Sox meanwhile entered the game as winners of seven of nine while slowly getting themselves back into contention for the AL Wild Card. Needless to say this may be the most meaningful Crosstown Cup in recent memory.

The White Sox and Cubs both have phenomenal pitching staffs. The Sox are lead by Sale and Samardzija while the Cubs have gotten steady starting pitching from all five men in their rotation while sprinkling in a ¬†few gems from Wada and others. Jason Hammel went down on Wednesday Night but he’s also been strong this year. The White Sox have seen outstanding statistical years from Jose Quintana who despite having a losing record has a sparkling ERA under four. Carlos Rodon was the pitcher in Friday’s opener of the series for the White Sox and he again pitched phenomenal with six scoreless innings. Kyle Hendricks is another young pitcher in Chicago at 25 years of age and he opposed Rodon (22). Hendricks was also stellar going seven scoreless innings in a no decision in which he let up five hits while striking out four and walking no one.

The problems for both teams has been its offenses, and today showed why as the White Sox won a 1-0 affair at Wrigley behind a JB Shuck sacrifice fly in the eight. The bullpen was strong again for the White Sox and they improved their season record to 40-44 just five games back of Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the American League. The White Sox won their third in a row and are starting to find ways to win. The Cubs have a strong hold on the final playoff spot in the National League at three games up in the loss column over the Mets, but with Chris Sale going tomorrow for the Southsiders it’s important not to get swept by their crosstown rivals who appear to be righting the ship in a very tough AL Central.

Tomorrow’s pitching matchup is the highlight of the series with Chris Sale opposing Jon Lester. Sale pitched a complete game in his last outing and Lester has been good but has fallen victim to the same thing that most starters in Chicago have dealt with in terms of lack of run support. The Cubs may be the team that’s acquiring all the publicity in Chicago, but the White Sox may have the last laugh if they can be the team that has a strong end to the first half with an eye on a second half run to contend for their first playoff appearance since 2008 when they lost in four games to Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays.