Orioles-White Sox Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 02, 2013
The Baltimore Orioles have yet to win five straight this season or go 12 games above 500. They would seem to have the right opponent up next as they try to accomplish both those goals. Baltimore looks to ride the scorching bat of Chris Davis to its longest win streak of the year Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game road set against the reeling Chicago White Sox. The Orioles (47-36) secured their first sweep of the season with three straight wins against the rival New York Yankees this weekend. After an 11-3 rout Saturday that featured two homers and five RBIs from Davis, the Baltimore slugger hit his major league-leading 31st home run in a 4-2 victory Sunday. Nate McLouth and Manny Machado also went deep for the Orioles, who have scored 26 runs and batted .393 with runners in scoring position during a season high-tying four-game win streak. "I think it's always a statement whenever you sweep anybody,'' said Davis, second in the majors with 80 RBIs. "We've always put emphasis on winning series and making sure we at least win the majority of the games, but when you can get a sweep, especially against a team in the division, it's huge.'' Huge would be an understatement to describe how valuable Davis has been. His 31 homers are a franchise record before the All-Star break, and he's the first player in major league history to have at least 30 home runs and 25 doubles before July. Davis, batting .324 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs in his last 18 games, is tied for second in the AL in doubles, trailing Machado, whose 38 are the second most in baseball through the end of June since 1921. Already leading the majors in homers (115) and ranking second in runs (410), Baltimore's offense received another boost Sunday with Brian Roberts' return from a right hamstring injury. Roberts went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and batted ninth as the designated hitter in his first game since April 5. Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.09 ERA) look to keep the Orioles hot and build off one of his best starts of the season. The right-hander limited Cleveland to two runs over seven innings Wednesday but left without a decision in a 4-3 loss. Although Hammel went 0-2 with a 5.34 ERA in June, he has pitched at least six innings in six of his last seven outings. He's been very good in his last two starts against the White Sox, going 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA. Hammel probably wouldn't mind if Paul Konerko sits out a seventh consecutive game with a sore back since Chicago's first baseman is 4 for 11 with two homers against him. "There's still a little soreness on the follow-through, a little bit," Konerko told the team's website. "I feel like that will be gone by Tuesday." The White Sox (32-47) are desperate for any kind of spark, having lost five straight and 23 of 31 to fall a season-worst 15 games under .500. "It's frustrating losing for any team,'' ace Chris Sale said. "Any time you start losing a few in a row, you're going to be frustrated. But that's in any sport, any team. But our focus is on turning this around and heading in the right direction.'' That begins with John Danks (1-5, 4.68), who has a 5.40 ERA in losing his past three starts since earning his only win June 8. His last outing, however, was among his best of the season. The left-hander surrendered three runs - one earned - over 7 1-3 innings Wednesday but received no offensive support in a 3-0 loss to the Mets. Davis is 0 for 9 against Danks.
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