CHICAGO -- Michael Pineda will try to carry his June mastery into a new month, as the New York Yankees aim to win their three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
After posting a 6.33 ERA in April and a 7.52 ERA in May, Pineda went 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six June starts with 49 strikeouts in 36 innings. The key to his improvement has been his slider.
"We're really confident on the mound because when this pitch is there, we've got a lot of (strikeouts). We've got a lot of (swing-and-misses)," Pineda (3-7, 5.24 ERA) told MLB.com after he struck out a season-high 12 in six innings against the Texas Rangers on Thursday in his last start.
The strikeout total was the second highest of his career.
"I thought he was really impressive," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com. "It might have been, and probably was, his best start of the year."
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.37 ERA in three career starts against the White Sox, and Wednesday marks his first meeting with the team this season. Despite not winning his last four starts overall, Pineda has allowed seven earned runs and struck out 37 in those 23 1/3 innings. In five of his last six starts, he has struck out at least eight. Pineda most recently won on June 7, holding the Los Angeles Angels to three runs in seven innings. He'll pitch on an extended five days of rest Wednesday.
The Yankees (41-42) improved to 3-2 against the White Sox this season after winning 9-0 with a season-high 20 hits on Tuesday night. New York has been no closer than 5 1-2 games to the top spot in the American League East since April 28.
"It's starting pitching and offense that really has to pick up for us to be successful," Girardi said Tuesday.
For the White Sox (43-41), right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (1-4, 4.88 ERA) is scheduled to start. He allowed three runs (two earned) in a season-high seven innings against Houston on Friday in his last start.
"I thought all of my pitches were pretty good, pretty decent," Gonzalez told the Chicago Tribune. "(Catcher Alex Avila) did a great job back there like always. It was just a tough one to swallow. It's
part of the game."
Gonzalez is 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 career starts against the Yankees, and he made all but one of them when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. He received a no-decision in his last start against New York, giving up three runs in 4 2/3 innings on May 15.
The White Sox have won four straight series and 10 of their last 15 games. They are 2 1/2 games back in the wild card standings.
On the injury front, Avila is headed to the disabled list after he left Tuesday's game in the fifth inning due to a strained right hamstring. Manager Robin Ventura said the White Sox will make a corresponding roster move Wednesday.