Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays Preview and Pick – Danks vs. Jackson

Chicago White Sox (29-23) +115, 8 at Tampa Bay Rays (32-21), 7:10 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of

A pair of unlikely division leaders meet when the Chicago White Sox visit the Tampa Bay Rays for the opener of an interesting four-game series Thursday night in Florida.

Baseball Bookies listing Tampa as -130 home favorites for Thursday’s game, with a total of 8 .

Chicago just took two of three games from the Indians in Cleveland. So going into this series, the White Sox are in first place in the AL Central, two games ahead of the second-place Minnesota Twins.

Tampa just took two of three from Texas, and have won 24 of their last 34 games. So heading into this series, the Rays are in first place in the AL East, a game and a half ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox.

In the first meeting this season between these two teams, Chicago took two of three from the Rays in St. Petersburg a month ago, and two of the games stayed under their totals. Last year, the Sox took six of seven games from Tampa, and the totals went 2-5, as the games averaged 9.1 total runs.

Lefty John Danks (3-4, 3.00, 1.21 WHIP) is slated to take the hill for Chicago Thursday, vs. Edwin Jackson for Tampa.

Over his last three starts, including a decent effort in a 2-0 loss to the Angels last Saturday, Danks has allowed five ER and 25 baserunners (hits + walks) in 17 1/3 IP. The White Sox are 5-5 in Danks’ starts this year, the o/u 2-8.

Danks started once vs. Tampa last year, and once last month, giving up four ER and 11 BR in 12 innings, as the Sox won both games.

Jackson (3-3, 3.47, 1.39 WHIP), in his last three starts, including a mediocre outing in a win over Baltimore Saturday, has allowed four ER and 25 BR in 17 1/3 IP. The Rays are 6-4 in Jackson’s starts this year, the totals 3-6.

Jackson started once vs. the White Sox last year, and once last month, giving up 10 ER and 20 BR in 10 1/3 IP. The Rays lost both those games.

The White Sox are 16-14 on the road this season, 15-14 as underdogs, and 31-21 vs. the run line.

Tampa is 21-9 at home this year, which is 2nd-best in the majors, 18-9 as favorites, and 33-20 vs. the run line.

Chicago ranks 26th in the majors in team batting average at .247, 16th in team OBP at .327, 14th in team slugging at .403, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game.

The Rays rank 8th in batting at .266, 8th in OBP at .339, 13th in slugging at .405, and are averaging 4.7 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Chicago bullpen has allowed zero ER and 19 BR in 17 innings of work.

Over its last five games, the Tampa pen has given up nine ER and 15 BR in 12 IP.

On the injury front, Rays closer Troy Percival left Wednesday’s game with a tight hamstring, and he’s listed as day-to-day.

The o/u is 21-31 in White Sox games this year, while the totals are 23-29 in Rays games. Games played at Tropicana Field this year are averaging just 7.9 total runs.

Zman’s Pick: I’m taking the UNDER 8.5 runs tonight.