The Orioles have a chance to continue their push up the American League ladder against the struggling White Sox, but Monday's opener could be a tough starting point. Baltimore will have to contend with Cy Young candidate Chris Sale.
Sale has been among the best in baseball once again this season, and he's been at his best during the past month. In his past six starts, Sale is 3-1 with a 2.11 ERA. His last outing wasn't his best -- he yielded three earned runs -- but he still earned his third quality start in four outings.
"He's still a good pitcher," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said after Sale pitched the Sox to a win over the Giants. "You sit there and split hairs over that, but he at least gets you to the spot where you need to be."
The O's, however, are one team that Sale (6-1) has struggled with. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in seven career appearances against the Orioles, although six were in relief.
Baltimore is once again one of the better offensive teams in the Majors and will have one of its better starting pitchers, Wei-Yin Chen (7-2, 3.78 ERA), on the mound. The offense, though, has been the team's backbone and has gotten a nice lift from surprising veteran Steve Pearce. The slugger logged his fifth straight multi-hit game in Sunday's 8-0 win over the Yankees, despite his four-game RBI streak coming to an end.
"Steve has been solid for us, and we knew a lot of guys [who are] 28-32 figure it out," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "He kind of knows who he is and who he's not. But a lot of guys, you put them in the 'Come to the rescue' mode and they are really good and you want to really stretch it out and think maybe you found something here -- let's play him every day."
White Sox: Chicago deciding on Rienzo's future
After a disappointing start on Saturday, Andre Rienzo's future in the Sox rotation is in question. The pitcher has dropped five straight decisions, allowing 35 hits and 11 walks in 22 1/3 innings during that stretch.
The most likely option to replace Rienzo in the starting rotation would be to move pitcher Scott Carroll from long-relief duty into the starting rotation.
"That would be the option is to flip-flop," Ventura said. "Right now, I don't know if you can just put Andre out in the bullpen. The way Scotty throws strikes, you like if you are going to bring a guy in out of the bullpen, he's going to be able to do what Scotty has done."
Other potential future options could include 40-man roster member Eric Surkamp or prospect Erik Johnson. The latter, a righty, was expected to give some balance to the White Sox lefty-heavy rotation, but has been disappointing at Triple-A Charlotte. He took the loss in the Knights' 4-3 loss to Toledo on Sunday after allowing four runs in seven innings.
"He wasn't able to give what everyone expected at 19," Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Sometimes you have to take lumps and hits to continue to evolve into the guy you are going to be."
Orioles: Norris doesn't expect to miss start
Bud Norris had to leave his start against the Yankees on Saturday before the sixth inning with right groin tightness, but the right-hander is hopeful that he will be good to go for his next scheduled start against the Rays on Friday.
"It's a little sore, for sure," Norris said. "It's just a big bruise right now. I don't want to miss any time. I hope I can be back out there on Friday."
Baltimore can use caution with Norris, though, as the O's currently employ a six-man rotation. Pitcher Kevin Gausman was optioned to the Minors on Saturday, but that was simply procedural. He is expected to start one game of Friday's doubleheader.
That means that the Orioles could go with starting pitcher Chris Tillman -- a winner on Sunday -- on regular rest by Friday if Norris isn't ready to go.
• A day after shortstop J.J. Hardy hit his first home run of the season, catcher Caleb Joseph belted the first of his career. The Orioles have hit six home runs in their last two games.
• Nelson Cruz pulled into a tie for the Major League home run lead on Saturday, but a day later, Edwin Encarnacion took the title back with his 24th of the year. Monday's game will also feature Jose Abreu, who ranks the third in the Majors with 21 home runs.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.