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Angels-White Sox Preview

Aug 10, 2015 - 12:54 AM Chris Sale may need to be very good Monday night to end his team's free fall as well as his own.

The Chicago White Sox left-hander carries back-to-back lousy starts into the opener of a three-game set against surging Matt Shoemaker and the Los Angeles Angles at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale (9-7) is far from the presence he was during his major league record-tying double-digit strikeout streak of eight games from late May to late June.

The left-hander has struggled to a 1-3 record and 7.61 ERA in his last four outings, and he's coughed up seven earned runs in each of his last two starts. In losses to the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, Sale surrendered 18 hits in 10 1-3 innings while walking four and striking out 16.

"I feel fine,'' Sale said after Chicago's 11-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. ''My arm feels good, my body feels good, I feel loose. It's just not showing up. I don't know what it is.''

Sale's ERA has ballooned to 3.52, the highest it's been since entering his May 28 start at 3.66.

Chicago (51-58) has also scuffled of late and was swept in a three-game series at Kansas City, dropping each game by one run after Sunday's 5-4 defeat. The White Sox have dropped eight of their last 10, falling 7 1/2 games behind the Angels (59-51) for the AL's second wild card.

"It's always tough," manager Robin Ventura told MLB's official website. "You see the opportunities that you have. We had some guys on third base and haven't been able to get them in. They all add up and then you're on the opposite end of a one-run game."

Shoemaker (5-7, 4.01) will try to extend his 19-inning scoreless streak en route to securing a fifth win in seven games for Los Angeles. He has the longest current streak in the league after adding six in a 2-0, 12-inning loss to Cleveland on Tuesday.

The right-hander is five innings shy of eclipsing his career mark of 23 2-3 innings set last year, the second-longest by a rookie in franchise history.

"I'm just trying to stay focused," Shoemaker told MLB's official website, "keep getting better each start, each bullpen in between starts, just keep going from there."

In his last three appearances, Shoemaker limited the Twins, Astros and Indians to 10 hits and six walks while striking out 27 over 19 innings. He has a 1.69 ERA since June 26 but only one win from six starts in that stretch.

The Angels have won four of six since dropping a season-high six straight, but their offense is still a concern. Los Angeles has averaged 3.6 runs in its last 16 games, scoring three or fewer in eight of them.

Albert Pujols and Mike Trout have just three hits in 23 at-bats combined against Sale, though one was a game-tying grand slam by Trout in the eighth inning of an eventual 6-5 win June 7, 2014.

While Trout did go 0 for 5 on Sunday and is batting .125 with 11 strikeouts this month, the Angels posted a 5-4, 11-inning victory on David Murphy's walkoff single. Murphy, who also homered and had a season-high four RBIs, is batting .120 in his last 10 road games.

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is hitting .338 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last 18 games but has struck out in all three at-bats versus Shoemaker.