Chicago (84-62) at Oakland (83-62)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Fri Sep 15, 2006
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Jon Garland isn’t interested in attending a reunion. As far as he is concerned, the Chicago White Sox’s visit to face the Oakland Athletics is a business trip.

The right-hander will maintain that approach when he starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against the A’s at McAfee Coliseum.

As he tries to help the defending World Series champions draw closer to a playoff spot, Garland (17-4, 4.28 ERA) opposes two former Chicago teammates— right-hander Esteban Loaiza and designated hitter Frank Thomas.

“To tell you the truth, I really don’t care,” Garland said. “I want the guys on this team to do good.”

While Loaiza was traded from the White Sox during the 2004 season, Thomas spent his first 16 major league seasons with Chicago before signing with Oakland last offseason.

Recent surges from Loaiza and Thomas have keyed Oakland (83-62) as it built a five-game lead on the second-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. The A’s and Angels meet seven more times this year.

The White Sox (84-62) were idle Thursday and remained three games behind AL Central-leading Detroit. Chicago, though, fell two games behind Minnesota in the wild card after the Twins’ 9-4 win over Cleveland.

With a win, Garland will tie the Twins’ Johan Santana for the major league lead in victories and match his career high set last season.

Garland has a tough act to follow. Freddy Garcia retired the first 23 batters and combined with Neal Cotts on a one-hitter in Chicago’s 9-0 win over the Angels on Wednesday.

Garland is 13-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last 16 starts. He has allowed five homers in that span—three in the loss—after serving up 19 through his first 12 starts.

Garland has given up no more than one run in five of his last six outings, going 5-0 with a 1.44 ERA since losing to the Yankees on Aug. 9.

He allowed a run and five hits with six strikeouts in five innings of a 10-8 win over Cleveland on Saturday.

“I’m trying to go out there and put my team in a position to win,” Garland said. “The more wins you can pick up, the better off we’re going to be.”

He’s 3-5 with a 4.85 ERA in nine starts against the A’s, though he did not get a decision the only time he faced them this season.

Chicago won that game 5-4 in 10 innings on May 22, starting what would be a three-game sweep at U.S. Cellular Field in the teams’ only series this season. The Athletics won seven of nine meetings in 2005.

Loaiza (9-8, 4.95 ERA) was 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his previous seven starts — winning the last three—before a horrendous outing in a 9-6 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday. He allowed eight runs and a season-high 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings.

“The only thing I can say is that they hit everything,” Loaiza said. “I was doing what I had been doing, getting ahead in the count and making them swing the bats. They put the bat on the ball and everything went their way.”

A 21-game winner with the White Sox in 2003, Loaiza will be facing his former team for the first time.

Like Garland, Loaiza takes the mound after an impressive mound performance.

Dan Haren gave up three hits and a walk while striking out seven in eight innings of Oakland’s 1-0 win at Minnesota on Wednesday. Jay Payton’s ground-rule double drove in Milton Bradley in the sixth, enabling the Athletics to avoid a sweep in the three-game series.

Thomas went 4-for-9 and four walks against Chicago in the May series. He had two solo homers and a single in three at-bats against Garland.

Thomas set an Athletics record by homering in six straight games from Sept. 5-11, but is 1-for-8 in his last two outings. Still, he’s raised his batting average from .248 to .280 since July 31.

“I’ve been taking good swings,” said Thomas, who has 36 homers and 98 RBIs. “I’ve been very selective and I’m getting balls in my zone. It feels good.”

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Starting Pitchers

J. Garland Col vs. E. Loaiza CWS
18-7 Record 11-9
4.51 ERA 4.89
112 K 97
41 BB 40
1.36 WHIP 1.42

Scoreboard

Friday, Sep 15