In the midst of the best stretch of a difficult first season with Chicago, Colon hopes to help the White Sox take the decisive game of their series with the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
Colon, a 20-game winner with Cleveland and Montreal last season, was acquired from the Expos in a three-way deal this spring. Expected to join left-hander Mark Buehrle and give Chicago a formidable 1-2 punch atop the rotation, the hard-throwing right-hander dropped nine of his first 15 decisions, including a seven-start winless streak from June 12-July 17.
Colon has snapped back since, winning his last three starts while permitting just four runs over 23 2-3 innings and striking out 20 without a walk.
“His last three (starts) have been really outstanding, and to see that type of performance against a good team, a good-hitting club (was impressive),” manager Jerry Manuel said after Colon yielded a run and seven hits over eight innings in Friday’s 12-1 win at Seattle.
“It just wasn’t a fastball-type thing tonight. He mixed in other pitches, so he’s kind of coming into his own, which is really exciting to see.”
The White Sox suffered a 13-9 loss in Monday’s series opener but bounced back with a much-needed 5-4 win Tuesday. Frank Thomas homered for the second straight game and Esteban Loaiza tossed six solid innings as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and pulled within two games of Kansas City in the Central.
The surging White Sox are 14-5 since the All-Star break and have shaved five games off the Royals’ division lead.
The Royals had won three straight before Tuesday’s loss.
STANDINGS: Royals - 1st place, AL Central. White Sox - 2nd place, 2 GB, AL Central.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Kris Wilson (5-1, 4.83 ERA). Wilson took over for injured right-hander Jose Lima on Friday, allowing five hits over four scoreless innings in Kansas City’s 9-6 loss to Tampa Bay. The right-hander hasn’t started since July 22, when he was pounded for six runs and six hits over five innings in a 10-0 loss to Oakland. Wilson is 0-0 with a 4.38 ERA in 10 career appearances, including two starts, against the White Sox.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Colon (9-9, 3.94 ERA). Colon is 7-5 with a 5.18 ERA in 15 career starts against the Royals.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Raul Ibanez and Angel Berroa, .298 avg.; Carlos Beltran, 16 HRs, 67 runs and 30 SBs.; Ibanez, 69 RBIs. White Sox - Magglio Ordonez, .314 avg. and 69 runs; Thomas, 27 HRs; Carlos Lee, 77 RBIs and 10 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: White Sox, 6-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - RHP Wilson boasts a 2-0 mark with a 1.96 ERA in nine appearances, including one start, on the road this season. … OF Michael Tucker was on crutches a day after fouling a ball off his right leg. He’s listed as day-to-day with a bone bruise. … The Royals called up OF Julius Matos and optioned reliever Nate Field to Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday. Matos hit .300 with four RBIs in seven games for Kansas City earlier this season. White Sox - RHP Colon is 5-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 starts at U.S. Cellular this season. … Colon has had his problems with Royals OF Beltran, who is hitting .387 with four homers and seven RBIs in 31 career at-bats against him. … The White Sox have won 13 of their last 16 at home.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 29-24 on the road; White Sox - 34-21 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - INF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; 1B-DH Mike Sweeney (back), 15-day DL; RHP Lima (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Tucker (leg), day-to-day. White Sox - None.