The Chicago White Sox already have clinched the Crosstown Cup series for the fifth time in the last six years, but they can finish a four-game sweep of the visiting Chicago Cubs on Thursday. After claiming the first two contests at Wrigley Field, the White Sox kept rolling with an 8-3 victory Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. They have outscored the Cubs 16-6 in the first three games after being outscored 32-8 in a four-game sweep by the North Siders a year ago.
The White Sox have won a season-high four straight thanks to outstanding pitching - they haven't allowed more than three runs in any of their last five games. The Cubs have done their part to prop up the South Siders' pitching staff, totaling only four hits in each of the first three games of the series. Prior to last year, neither team had swept the season series since the Cubs won all three meetings in 1998 - the second year of interleague play.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, WGN (Cubs), CSN (White Sox)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. White Sox RH Scott Carroll (1-1, 0.68)
Arrieta was solid in his season debut Saturday against St. Louis, striking out seven and allowing four hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. The 28-year-old was limited to 85 pitches in his first start after beginning the season on the disabled list with shoulder tightness. Arrieta is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA in three outings against the White Sox, most recently in 2012.
Carroll has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox in his first two starts, allowing just one earned run (four total) over 13 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old rookie took a tough-luck loss last time out, giving up a pair of unearned runs over six frames in a 2-0 loss at Cleveland. Keeping it up might be a bit much for the White Sox to ask - he's 27-38 with a 3.95 ERA in eight seasons in the minors.
1. White Sox relievers have allowed two earned runs in 37 2/3 innings over the last 11 games and have worked 12 scoreless frames in the series.
2. Cubs 2B/CF Emilio Bonifacio and 3B Mike Olt are the team's only players with more than one hit in the series.
3. White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham has homered in consecutive games for the ninth time in his career. He never has gone deep in three straight.
PREDICTION: Cubs 3, White Sox 2