Chris Sale of the White Sox and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw have been on different paths of success as of late, but it's tough to find more promising talent 24 years old or younger in the American and National Leagues, respectively.
Kershaw takes the mound on Friday following his fifth victory of the season on Saturday, when he allowed three earned runs on four hits over seven innings while striking out a season-high 12 batters. Kershaw has thrown seven innings of three-run ball in back-to-back starts.
Sale, meanwhile, has won five consecutive starts to run his season record to 8-2 with a 2.05 ERA. The left-hander has also developed a penchant for punchouts, fanning 43 batters in his last 36 1/3 innings, including a career-high 15 strikeouts on May 28.
"We've seen a lot of them in Spring Training," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of the White Sox. "We are out there in the same complex. I haven't got into the reports or looked at what is going on with them right now. He's good. We see him in Spring Training. He throws the ball good. He's got good stuff."
The southpaw has tossed at least seven innings in each of his last four starts and lasted at least eight frames in his last two. Sale has been overpowering at times, limiting the opposition to just four earned runs during his five-start winning streak (0.99 ERA).
"Any time he pitches, whether you won or lost [the day before], you feel like you're going to win his game," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Sale's last start. "He just continues to go out and be consistent."
The White Sox allowed only two runs in the first two games of their series in St. Louis, but the Cardinals jumped on starter Gavin Floyd for five runs in 4 2/3 innings in the final game on Thursday. Sale will try to help Chicago bounce back on Friday, as the team continues its road trip out west.
"He's been outstanding all year long, and when he's on the mound, obviously we have all the confidence in the world," White Sox slugger Adam Dunn said. "We know if we score him a few runs, then normally it's going to be good enough."
White Sox: De Aza doing damage
Alejandro De Aza appeared in his 63rd game on Friday, exceeding the 54 appearances he made a season ago.
De Aza has responded to the additional playing time with greater production as the season has moved along. The center fielder is hitting .404 (19-for-47) in June, including 20 hits in his last 12 games. He has also hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games and recorded multihit nights in six of his last 11 games. De Aza has raised his average from .280 on May 26 to .307 entering Friday.
Dodgers: Hairston exceeding expectations
Jerry Hairston has grown accustomed to new surroundings, considering the Dodgers are his fifth team since the start of the 2009 season. However, Hairston may have finally found his comfort zone in Chavez Ravine. The utility man is hitting .336 (37-for-110) with two home runs and 15 RBIs. He boasts a .355 (16-for-45) average at home.
The White Sox are 159-115 all-time in Interleague Play, which trails only the Yankees (164-109) for the best record in the Majors.
Dodgers outfielder Bobby Abreu ranks fifth among active players with 270 hits during Interleague Play.