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White Sox and Cubs return to action tonight

A familiar face no longer will be in the Chicago White
Sox's clubhouse when the team opens the second half of the season
with a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners starting
tonight in Chicago.

On Thursday, the White Sox sent shockwaves through the Windy City
by trading left-hander Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs in
exchange for four minor league prospects, including prized
outfielder Eloy Jimenez. The deal marked the first trade between
the crosstown rivals since 2006.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has made no secret of his
willingness to trade veterans for prospects as part of a long-term
rebuilding project. In the meantime, Chicago (38-49) will continue
to rely on a patchwork of young players and proven veterans during
the season's second half.

The weekend offers an opportunity for Seattle (43-47) to move on
from a disappointing end to the first half. The Mariners lost 10 of
their final 14 games before the All-Star break and slipped into
fourth place in the American League West.

Left-hander James Paxton (7-3, 3.21 ERA) will take the mound for
Seattle in the series opener. The 28-year-old has won back-to-back
decisions with strong performances against the Los Angeles Angels
and the Oakland Athletics. He has 91 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings
on the season.

In two career starts against the White Sox, Paxton is 0-0 with a
3.38 ERA. He has walked one and struck out nine in 11 1/3 innings.
This will be his first start against Chicago this year.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto wants to see more from all of
his players in the second half.

"We have underperformed, truly," Dipoto told the Seattle Times.
"Particularly over the course of the last couple of weeks. We just
haven't played well, and we are at probably our most, the longest
stretch of positive health that we've had since Opening Day, and
we've played perhaps as poorly as we've played all year long over
the course of the last two weeks."

For Chicago, right-hander James Shields (2-1, 4.95 ERA) will make
his eighth start of the season. The 35-year-old has allowed 17
earned runs in his last 19 1/3 innings since coming off the
disabled list in June.

This contest will mark Shields' 18th career start against the
Mariners. In his previous 17 outings, he possesses a career record
of 5-6 with a 4.51 ERA. He has not faced Seattle this season.

The White Sox enter Friday's series opener in last place in the AL
Central. Only the Oakland Athletics (50 losses) have a worse record
than Chicago in the AL.

Hahn said it was difficult to part ways with Quintana, who emerged
as a quiet leader in recent seasons and inherited the role of team
ace after left-hander Chris Sale was shipped to the Boston Red Sox.

"It is always extremely difficult to trade a person and player like
Jose Quintana," Hahn said in a statement provided by the White Sox
after the trade. "But difficult as it was, this deal moves us
closer to our goal of building a team capable of contending for
multiple championships over an extended period of time. Jose, our
scouts and coaches throughout the organization deserve a tremendous
amount of credit for his development from a minor league free agent
signee to one of the most sought-after talents in the game."

Tonight's game can be heard on Good time Oldies 1060 with the Pre-Game Show at 6:35.

 

The world champion Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore
Orioles both struggled throughout the first half of the 2017
season. Both teams will be hoping to start the second part on a
better note when they kick off a three-game interleague series at
Camden Yards tonight.

The Cubs have played inconsistent baseball throughout 2017. The
World Series champs just have not been able to put it all together
like they did so easily last year -- and manager Joe Maddon knows
it.

"We've never been able to get on a roll, and with that comes that
edgy kind of feeling," Maddon said on MLB.com "We've underachieved
offensively, and our starting pitching hasn't been as good as we
thought. We've been playing from behind a lot. It's hard to create
edginess under those circumstances."

Chicago has posted a surprising 43-45 record in the first half and
is tied for second with St. Louis in the National League Central, 5
1/2 games behind Milwaukee. The hitting really has been puzzling to
Maddon and anyone who follows the Cubs.

"Everybody knows there's a lot more we can bring out in the second
half," Chicago's Ben Zobrist told MLB.com.

The Cubs rank just 14th in the National League with a .239 team
average. The pitching is fifth in the National League in ERA (4.10)
but needs improvement from their starters, who have been
inconsistent.

Closer Wade Davis has been perfect so far, converting all 16 save
opportunities. He is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA but was the losing pitcher
in the All-Star Game Tuesday in Miami.

However, the Cubs made a big move Thursday morning by acquiring
Jose Quintana, the White Sox's top starter, for top prospect Eloy
Jimenez and three other minor-leaguers. That trade should give the
Cubs' starting rotation a jolt, and Quintana will be with Chicago
through at least 2020.

This year, though, he is just 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts,
although he has struck out 109 in 104 1/3 innings. He last pitched
versus the Rockies on Saturday, allowing three runs on five hits in
5 1/3 innings and coming away with a no-decision despite striking
out 10.

Quintana will make his debut for the Cubs on Sunday.

Mike Montgomery (1-6, 3.75 ERA) began starting for the Cubs in
early June and has been fairly effective. He will start the series
opener against Baltimore's Kevin Gausman (5-7, 5.85 ERA).

Montgomery is 0-0 with an 0.00 ERA over three innings in two career
games against Baltimore, both coming last year.

Gausman has pitched better of late for the Orioles (42-46) but
allowed six runs in four-plus innings in a loss to the Twins on
July 7. Gausman has been inconsistent in a season where Baltimore
needed him to step up.

He is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in his only career appearance against the
Cubs, and that was in 2014.

The Orioles' offense often struggled in the first half but should
get some help when first baseman Chris Davis (oblique muscle)
returns from the disabled list, which should be Friday.

He played in a few rehab games with Baltimore's minor league teams
this week and fared well.

"I felt really good," Davis told MASN. "I felt like I was maybe
pressing a little too hard a few times, but I wanted to see where I
was at swing-wise, what it felt like to turn and twist at that game
speed, so it felt good."

Both teams also have gotten some pleasant surprises through the
problems, though, as Chicago's Ian Happ came through with 13 homers
and 31 RBIs as a rookie.

Trey Mancini also gave the Orioles a boost. The rookie leads the
Orioles with a .312 batting average. He also banged out 14 homers
and drove in 44.

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