Right-hander Dane Dunning made his major league debut for the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 19, earned his first career victory on Wednesday and on Tuesday is set to start in his club’s biggest series in more than a decade.
If that stretch sounds overwhelming — and to many rookies, it might — Dunning is neither showing nor admitting it.
“He’s composed beyond his years,” White Sox catcher Brian McCann said. “It’s fun catching a kid like that who doesn’t let the game speed up on him.”
Seeking their first playoff berth since 2008, the American League Central-leading White Sox (31-16) will look to extend their lead atop the division on the second-place Minnesota Twins (30-19) to three games as Dunning makes his fifth career start.
Dunning’s fourth outing was his most memorable to date, as he tossed six shutout innings at Pittsburgh on Tuesday to notch his first victory. Dunning (1-0, 2.70 ERA) limited the Pirates to three hits with one walk and three strikeouts as he pitched past the fifth inning for the first time in the majors.
“He commanded the zone and kept them at bay,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He was extremely efficient.”
Developing his arsenal has been vital to Dunning’s early development, along with improving his location.
Apart from a blip during a Sept. 4 start at Kansas City, when he walked four in 4 2/3 innings, Dunning has exhibited strong control since joining the White Sox, issuing just one walk in each of his other starts.
“Ten years ago, everyone threw a sinker. Now everyone throws a four-seamer,” McCann said. “He can do both. He’s going to be an integral part of our rotation the rest of the month and probably for years.”
Chicago rallied for two runs in the eighth inning Monday to win the opener of the teams’ four-game series 3-1, the 21st win for the White Sox in their past 26 games. While he wasn’t downplaying the urgency of the series, Twins reliever Tyler Clippard said the team was viewing it as a “precursor to what’s ahead” as the postseason looms.
“It would be very important to win your division but at the same time, using a series like this to prepare us for the playoffs regardless of what happens here,” Clippard said. “We use this in a positive way to get to the ultimate goal, which is winning a championship.”
Minnesota will try to even the series behind righty Randy Dobnak (6-3, 3.61 ERA), who succumbed to a disastrous third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in his most recent start Sept. 8. Dobnak lost for the second time in his past three outings, allowing five runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.
Dobnak lost to the White Sox in Chicago on July 25, yielding one run on three hits in four innings with two walks and three strikeouts. In two career appearances (one start) against the White Sox, he is 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA in seven innings.
–Field Level Media