Baseball’s schedule-makers did the Red Sox no favors in the final month or so of the regular season. Thus, it might be important for Boston to take advantage when a bad Chicago White Sox team visits Fenway Park for three games this weekend.
After facing the Pale Hose, Boston has eight series left. Six of those are against potential or likely playoff teams: Detroit, the New York Yankees (twice), Tampa Bay and Baltimore (twice). The only non-playoff clubs in there are Toronto and Colorado, and it’s never easy to play at Coors Field, which Boston will do on Sept. 24 and 25. By then, it could be winter in Denver.
The only team with a worse record in the American League than the White Sox is Houston, which is essentially a Triple-A club. The Astros were expected to stink in 2013, but Chicago thought it could contend after leading the AL Central for much of last season before collapsing down the stretch.
The White Sox are now in full rebuilding mode. They sent Jake Peavy and the $20 million or so remaining on his contract to Boston in a three-way deal that netted outfielder Avisail Garcia from Detroit and a few low-level Boston prospects. The White Sox also traded reliever Matt Thornton to Boston on July 12 for minor-league outfielder Brandon Jacobs. Chicago is high on him, and he was considered the No. 11 prospect in the Red Sox organization. The White Sox also traded pitcher Jesse Crain (to Tampa Bay) and outfielder Alex Rios (to Texas).
Chicago’s South Siders are a lock to reach 90 losses for the first time since 2007 but should be able to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1970. Boston will be one of its largest series favorites of the year, around -180 by Bovada oddsmakers. Another thing in the Red Sox’ favor: they miss White Sox All-Star starter Chris Sale.
The current White Sox rotation is lefty-heavy, and Boston will see southpaws in the first two games. It’s Hector Santiago (4-7, 3.25) on Friday. Santiago has had three straight quality starts, allowing two earned runs in each of them. He has allowed more than three earned runs once in his past 10 outings, and Chicago has won his past four. Santiago last faced Boston on May 22 and allowed two runs and three hits in six innings. No Red Sox hitter has more than four at-bats against him. David Ortiz has a hit and two RBIs.
Saturday, it’s John Danks (4-10, 4.15), with Peavy facing his former teammates. Danks has allowed two combined runs over 14 innings in winning his past two starts. The White Sox had lost his previous six before that. An Ortiz home run prop will be offered, and Big Papi has two dingers in 14 at-bats off Danks. Jonny Gomes has a homer off him.
In the finale, Chicago starts rookie Andre Rienzo (1-0, 4.21), the first Brazilian starting pitcher in MLB history. He took Peavy’s spot in the rotation. Rienzo had pitched pretty well until allowing seven runs in six innings against Houston on Monday.