The Seattle Mariners are in position to notch their longest road win streak in 11 years.
Standing in their way is the AL pitcher who is toughest to hit in his home ballpark.The Mariners own more wins against left-handed starters than any team in baseball but face a tough assignment against Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale on Friday night.Seattle (47-38) can match a season high with a fifth straight victory and extend its season-best road streak to seven. The Mariners swept the first half of this six-game trip by taking three games in Houston this week and outscoring the Astros 28-8.Manager Lloyd McClendon credited the top of his batting order. Rookie James Jones batted second and was 8 for 16 with six runs scored and three stolen bases in the Houston series while leadoff hitter Endy Chavez scored four times."I think the addition of Endy as well as Jonesy at the top of the order has given us a shot in the arm," McClendon said. "Those guys, for the most part, have been on pretty consistent, have done a nice job of giving the guys in the middle of the order the chance to drive in some runs and get some pitches to hit."Seattle's Dustin Ackley has six hits in the past two games, Kyle Seager has five hits and four RBIs in that span and Robinson Cano is 7 for 16 with eight RBIs in his last four.The Mariners can notch their first seven-game road win streak since a 13-game run May 15-June 5, 2003. That represents the longest such streak in a single season in club history.Seattle is 20-11 against left-handed starters heading into this formidable matchup. Sale (7-1, 2.30 ERA) is 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA in eight starts at home, limiting opponents to a league-low .162 average.He is 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA in three starts against Seattle. Cano has faced him the most among Mariners hitters, going 4 for 12 with two doubles.Sale won his last outing Saturday by limiting Toronto to two runs in seven innings despite a career-high five walks in a 4-3 road victory.He'll be up against a fellow southpaw in rookie Roenis Elias (7-6, 3.96), who will face Chicago for the first time. Elias is 5-2 with a 3.46 ERA in eight road starts.Elias had won back-to-back starts, yielding one run in each, before giving up five in six innings in last Saturday's 5-0 home defeat to Cleveland.He'll get his first look at Cuban countryman Jose Abreu, who is among baseball's leaders with 26 homers and 67 RBIs. Abreu is batting .343 with seven homers and 16 RBIs during his season-best 17-game hitting streak.The White Sox (40-46) avoided a three-game home sweep by the Los Angeles Angels with Wednesday's 3-2 victory. Pinch-hitter Leury Garcia singled in the winning run in the ninth."We could have folded a lot of times," second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "I feel like we do battle and compete the right way."The Mariners could be close to activating Corey Hart, out since May 18 with a strained left hamstring.These teams split six meetings a year ago. Chicago has taken 17 of the last 20 home matchups.
Chris Sale (CHW): 4th start this season with 10+ K and 1 or fewer ER allowed; most such starts in a single season by a White Sox pitcher in the last 100 seasons.
Chris Sale is throwing his changeup 32.1 percent of the time this season, much more often than his 16.7 percent clip last season. The Mariners have hit .187 in at-bats ending in a lefty changeup this year, the worst rate in the AL.