White Sox Open Series With Los Angeles Angels
By: Willie Bee
Thursday, August 2, 2012
We really need to see a Zack Greinke vs. Ryan Dempster confrontation at some point to decide the American League West Division. Until then, we'll make do when each takes the mound for their new clubs against whoever, and that whoever for Greinke on Friday ain't chopped liver themselves.
The newest acquisition by the Los Angeles Angels continues his re-education in the American League when he opens the series at the Chicago White Sox. His opponent for the 8:10 p.m. (ET) start at US Cellular Field is none other than perfect game artist Philip Humber. The Angels were installed as $1.35 favorites with an 8½-run total.
This has AL playoff matchup written all over it. The Angels were completing a series Thursday at the Texas Rangers, the outcome still in question as we went to press, while Chicago took the day off. The ChiSox and Halos were just percentage points apart in the American League standings, Chicago owning a 2.5-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central while LA was hoping to cut into Texas' 4-game lead in the AL West.
If the Angels can't catch the Rangers, and the Detroit Tigers do catch the White Sox as many expect, this weekend could very well be a preview of the new 1-game, wild card playoff format which goes into effect this year.
Greinke was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers with designs on the Angels catching the Rangers and reclaiming their prominence atop the division. The right-hander showed that he could help with those designs in his first assignment this past Sunday when he limited the Tampa Bay Rays to two runs over seven innings. However, Rays hurler Jeremy Hellickson was more than equal to the task with six shutout innings in Tampa Bay's 2-0 victory.
Greinke has plenty of experience against the White Sox from his days toiling for the Kansas City Royals. Twenty-two previous starts vs. Chicago have yielded a 7-10 record and 3.98 ERA.
That effort by Hellickson and his bullpen deserves a gold star given how potent this Angels lineup has been. The offense was a big part of the blame for the club's slow start to the campaign, averaging just over 3.5 runs per game through May 21 when the team was 18-25 and dead last in the AL West. In the 62 subsequent games before Thursday's clash at Texas, the sticks have come alive and put up 5.3 rpg.
Humber struggled after throwing his el perfecto in Seattle on April 21, and was even shut down for about a month with a strained elbow. Friday will mark his first start at home since a poor showing vs. the Houston Astros in an interleague battle on June 10.
Among the three starts he has made since returning from the disabled list, one was really ugly in Detroit (3 IP, 6 ER, 4 HR), and two were solid efforts against powerful lineups in Boston and Texas. He faced the Angels one time in 2011, lasting five innings and allowing four runs (2 earned) in a 4-3 home loss.
The Angels and White Sox met in Anaheim for a quickie 2-game set in mid-May, and appropriately split those contests. The clubs are 55-55 against one another dating back to the start of the 2000 season. The Pale Hose won three of the five games played in the Windy City a year ago, and the teams will meet one more time on the 2012 schedule when Chicago travels to Anaheim in September.