The struggling New York Yankees didn’t fare too well against the Chicago White Sox, owners of the AL’s best record, last week. Chicago, though, is in the midst of its longest losing streak of the season as it gets set to face New York at U.S. Cellular Field.
With a 10 1/2 -game lead in the AL Central, the White Sox aren’t in any danger of missing the playoffs. Still, being swept in three games by Minnesota has to be somewhat disconcerting to Chicago, which lost 5-1 to the Twins on Wednesday for its season-high fifth straight defeat.
Backed by two solo homers from Matthew LeCroy, Johan Santana outpitched the White Sox’s Mark Buehrle in a meeting of marquee lefthanders. Santana gave up six hits with one walk, struck out 10 in 8 1-3 innings and carried a no-hitter into the seventh.
Santana’s teammates made it easier for him by jumping out to a 5-0 lead after five innings. But Buehrle, perhaps buoyed by his team’s comfortable edge in the division, didn’t panic about Chicago’s slump.
“We’re in a little funk. I don’t think anybody’s worried about our lead,” Buehrle said.
Another tight matchup with the Yankees could help the White Sox get back on track. Chicago and New York played three one-run games at Yankee Stadium last week, with the White Sox taking the last two contests by 2-1 scores.
The tone of that series played to Chicago’s strengths, as the White Sox got strong pitching, timely hitting and sparkling defense—particularly from center fielder Aaron Rowand—to get the best of the Yankees.
Mike Mussina got the only victory of the series for New York, outpitching former teammate Orlando Hernandez in a 3-2 win Aug. 8, and his stumbling team needs him to come through with another strong start Friday. For the second day in a row Wednesday, Tampa Bay rallied to defeat New York, winning 7-6 to take two of three in the series.
After wasting a 3-0 advantage and losing 4-3 in 11 innings Tuesday, the Yankees blew three leads Wednesday. An error by rookie second baseman Robinson Cano in the eighth led to the tying and winning runs scoring, with Jonny Gomes coming home on Tanyon Sturtze’s wild pitch to provide the final margin.
After dropping the series to the White Sox, the Yankees appeared to put it behind them and swept a four-game set from Texas, bringing them into Tampa with a chance to build momentum. Instead, New York fell to 4-9 against the last-place Devil Rays this season.
“It’s frustrating. This is where you really have to earn your money,” manager Joe Torre said. “Things aren’t always going to be wonderful, because then it would be easy to play this game. You really have to fight your way through times like this.”
They’ll have to start doing that against Jon Garland, set to face the Yankees for the first time this season Friday as he goes for his 17th win.
New York trails Oakland by 1 1/2 games for the wild card.