Cubs prepare to do battle against White Sox at Wrigley Field


Apr 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs manager

Rick Renteria

makes a pitching change against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning of a baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

After falling just short of a three-game sweep of the division rival Cardinals this weekend, the Chicago Cubs will welcome their crosstown rival, the Chicago White Sox, to the Friendly Confines Monday for a brief two-game stint before the teams play two more at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox (15-17) currently find themselves five games back of the division-leading Detroit Tigers, and are looking to start a winning streak on Monday night. Heading into the matchup with their crosstown rivals, Robin Ventura‘s club carries a 1-2 record in interleague play and a 6-10 mark in road contests.

Meanwhile, Ricky Renteria’s Cubs (11-18) are 8 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central – dead last in the division. The North Siders have been pointedly better at home than on the road, going 7-9 at Wrigley Field – as opposed to a dismal 4-9 mark on the road.

Both of these clubs have been playing .500 level baseball of late, as both are winners of four of their last ten games.

The biggest offensive presence in this series is rookie slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, who set the rookie records for both home runs (10) and runs batted in (32) for the month of April. Oh, and since the calendar turned to May, he’s already clubbed another pair of long-balls off opposing pitchers.

The Cubs have a couple of hot bats of their own in first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Welington Castillo, both of whom are heating up after cold spells in mid-April. Rizzo enters the matchup with the White Sox with a team-high six homers, while Castillo is hitting .286 – including a robust .438 so far in May.

Renteria will send right-handed ace Jeff Samardzija (0-3, 1.98 ERA) to the hill in Monday’s opener. Samardzija is still searching for his first win of 2014, despite turning in six solid starts. He is, however, coming off his worst start of the season. Even that, though, was a 5 2/3 inning performance where he allowed three earned runs on eight hits. Control issues plagued the right-hander, as he issued four walks and notched just four strikeouts. It was the first time this season he failed to pitch at least seven innings.

The White Sox will counter with lefty Jose Quintana (1-2, 4.00) in the opener. The southpaw is looking to build on his last start against Detroit, where he was left with nothing to show for his efforts, despite a six-inning, three earned run outing in which he notched a season-high ten punchouts in what ended as a 4-3 Chicago loss.

In the finale at Wrigley on Tuesday night, Hector Noesi (0-1, 7.20 ERA) will oppose Edwin Jackson (2-2, 5.24 ERA). Jackson is coming off a performance where he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings, while Noesi is making just his second start for Ventura’s club. In his starting debut, he breezed through the first three frames, but fatigue quickly set in, ending his night fairly quickly.