Despite various pre-game festivities honoring their World Series win, the Chicago White Sox had a rough opening series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Now the defending champions return home to take on the Toronto Blue Jays feeling confident and more focused after a six-game road trip and four straight wins.
“All the attention before the (first series), it was nice,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “But right now, we’ve started to play the regular season. We’re playing good baseball now, and when we get home, hopefully, we’ll continue to play the same way.”
“We swung the bats really well today,” said Thome, who has six home runs in his first season with the White Sox. “This was a huge series for us.”
Javier Vazquez goes to the mound for Chicago after having one of the strongest season debuts among the starting rotation. Despite not getting a decision on April 8 against the Kansas City Royals, he gave up two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts through seven innings in a 4-3 defeat.
Vazquez will be making his first home start with the White Sox in what is expected to be a warm night with temperatures in the high 70s. He is 2-0 lifetime at U.S. Cellular Field, giving up four runs and 12 hits in 16 innings.
“I never worry about what stadium I’m pitching in or what the weather will be like,” Vazquez said. “I throw my game, and with my game, it doesn’t matter if I’m pitching in a small or big stadium. I just have to go out and make my pitches.”
After beating the Boston Red Sox 8-6 on Thursday, Toronto (5-4) is looking for its third straight win.
Vernon Wells hit a grand slam in a six-run second inning and the Blue Jays led 8-1 through seven innings. They nearly blew the lead, giving up five runs over the next two innings before holding on.
Shea Hillenbrand did not play for the first time this season. Hillenbrand has appeared in six of the team’s eight games this season as a designated hitter, but has struggled, hitting .194 with a .229 on-base percentage.
“I don’t want to be where I am and they know that,” said Hillenbrand, who had split time between first and third base for much of the previous three seasons. “They know I don’t want to be a DH.”