Few would have thought that a game at the start of the season between the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles would have meant much of anything at the end of August. However, these two are both hoping to improve their playoff positioning in both division title chases and the Wild Card race on Tuesday night when they meet in Camden Yards.
We don’t know how the White Sox keep doing this, but they are leading the AL Central and have basically gone wire-to-wire with the lead. Oh sure, the Detroit Tigers have had the edge for a few days here and there, but every time Detroit makes a run at it, the Sox end up going on just as good of a run. Part of the success of the team is thanks to the pitching of Chris Sale, who is going to be on the bump on Tuesday. Sale really might not win any awards this year, which is a real shock considering the fact that he is 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA. Other years, he would be Cy Young Award winner (David Price will have a thing or two to say about that). However, with a win, Sale will tie for the MLB lead in wins, and that’s quite the impressive feat, to say the least, especially for a man that had never started a game at the MLB level before the start of this season. Sale’s last start was a tremendous one, as he set down the New York Yankees in a gritty 2-1 game. The lefty threw 7.2 innings, allowed three hits, a walk, and a single run on a solo homer, but most impressively, he struck out 13 men in pinstripes.
And then there are the Orioles, who, thanks to last night’s win, are now back in front of the Tampa Bay Rays with their third win in a row in the AL Wild Card chase. If the playoffs were to start today, Baltimore would be hosting the one-game playoff against the Oakland Athletics. Catching the Yankees definitely isn’t out of the question, as there are just 3.5 games separating the two teams. It has been tremendously surprising to see Chris Tillman pitch so well this year, but he is one of the key reasons that the O’s haven’t fallen out of the race yet this year. Tillman came up from AAA on the Fourth of July, throwing a near one-hitter against the Seattle Mariners. Since that point, he has definitely been interesting, at the very least. The righty is 6-2, and he has a respectable 3.71 ERA, but a closer look shows that eight of the first nine runs that he allowed on the year were unearned. Had those runs been accounted for as earned, we’d probably be talking about a pitcher that is back in the minors.
We still think that Tillman is a gas can and an explosion waiting to happen. Yes, he has pitched relatively well, but he has allowed 12 runs, including five homers in his last three starts, spanning just 17 innings of work. That won’t cut it against Sale, who should be able to come on the road and put a hurting on Baltimore on Tuesday night. Chicago 8 – Baltimore 4