The White Sox are in third place in the AL Central while the Nationals are in last place in the NL East, yet both teams are within striking distance of their respective division leaders.
There are some natural rivalries when interleague action takes center stage, pitting teams in the same cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago against one another. Then there are matchups pitting a pair of middling teams trying not to get buried in the standings.
Such is the case Saturday when the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals continue a three-game series, with both squads hoping to remain relevant in the second half of the season.
Chicago is currently in third place in the American League Central standings, but within striking distance of division-leading Minnesota. Though the Nationals are just eight games off the pace behind Atlanta in the National League East, they reside in last place.
Don Best Sports opened Chicago as a 120 road favorite over Washington, with the total set at nine ‘under' (-125). Saturday's contest is slated to start at 4:10 p.m. from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
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Chicago hurler Jake Peavy (5-5, 5.62 ERA) was scheduled to pitch Thursday, but the start was pushed back to Saturday after he experienced soreness in his right arm. The right-hander will now be making his first start in eight days after beating the Cubs June 11 as a 102 road selection, 10-5.
The Alabama native was reached for two runs on six hits (one home run) with a walk and five strikeouts over seven innings and 99 pitches. The combined 15 runs eclipsed the 10 ½-run closing total. That helped the ‘over' improve to 8-2 in his last 10 starts. The nine-year veteran recorded his 100th career victory during that effort.
Peavy is 2-4 with a 4.18 ERA in nine career starts against Washington, but has never pitched in Nationals Park after spending the beginning of his career with San Diego. The 29-year-old hasn't faced Washington since dropping a pair of decisions in 2007.
Peavy went a combined 14 innings, yielding six runs on 16 hits with three walks and 17 strikeouts. The Padres lost as a decided 250 home ‘chalk,' 3-2, and as a 204 road favorite, 4-3. The ‘under' has cashed during Peavy's previous eight starts against the Nationals.
Chicago sports an 8-1 record its previous nine interleague road games, and the team is also a solid 7-1 the last eight outings overall. The White Sox conclude a nine-game interleague road trip with Sunday's matchup before embarking on a six-game homestand against Atlanta and the Cubs.
Washington's J.D. Martin (0-2, 4.19 ERA) is making just his fourth start of the season, but this will be his first home effort. The second-year player fell to Cleveland last Saturday as a 111 road underdog, 7-1. He tossed 7 2/3 innings while surrendering seven runs (six earned) on nine hits (two home runs) with no walks and three strikeouts on a season-high 113 pitches.
The combined eight runs failed to topple the nine-run closing total. The ‘under' is now 4-1 in his previous five starts dating back to last season. The right-hander has never faced the White Sox in his brief major league career.
Washington is 6-2 its last eight home outings, but just 20-44 the previous 64 Saturday games. The Nats continue a six-game interleague homestand following this series with three games against Kansas City.
Saturday's forecast for Washington D.C. calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high of 92 degrees and a low of 76.