In the midst of their best stretch of starting pitching in four years, the Toronto Blue Jays look to extend their longest winning streak of the season when they open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.
Toronto (51-50) has won a season-high five straight, including a three-game sweep of Minnesota that was capped by a 13-1 victory Wednesday.
“I definitely feel like we’re riding a wave of confidence right now,” said catcher Gregg Zaun, who homered and drove in four runs in the series finale. “Everybody is doing something. It’s not one guy carrying the club. It’s 25 guys on the roster making their contributions.”
While the Blue Jays scored 26 runs in the series, it’s their starting pitching that has been the most impressive. The rotation is 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA in the last five games, the first time since June 8-13, 2003 that Toronto has gotten five consecutive wins from starters.
“Pitching is always going to set the tone for you,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “If they shut down the opposition it gives you a chance, but we’ve gone above and beyond that. We’ve really shut down the other teams and the offense has really come to life.”
Josh Towers (5-6, 4.97 ERA) looks to extend that streak Friday and as he tries to lead Toronto to its first six-game win streak since May 4-10, 2004.
Towers is 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA in his last five starts. He gave up three hits in 6 2-3 outstanding innings Saturday for a 1-0 win over Seattle.
The right-hander is 3-3 with a 5.52 ERA in five starts and two relief appearances against the White Sox (46-56), who won three of five from Detroit this week after dropping three of four against Boston last weekend.
“I always loved speed,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Obviously power is part of the game, but with speed you can make a lot of things happen. And I think (without) Scotty being here almost all year obviously our lineup is not the same.”
After making five of his last six starts on the road, Jon Garland (7-7, 4.15) hopes Friday’s home start will be much better than his last appearance at U.S. Cellular Field.
Garland was pounded for 11 earned runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 20-14 loss to the Twins on July 6 at home. He has struggled at U.S. Cellular Field this season, going 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA in 10 starts.
The right-hander is 3-2 with a 5.91 ERA in his last six starts overall. He gave up six runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-5 defeat to the Red Sox on Sunday.
Garland is 8-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances against Toronto.
Blue Jays slugger Frank Thomas is 4-for-6 with two homers off Garland. Thomas, who played with the Athletics last season after 16 years with the White Sox, was 4-for-9 with two homers, two runs and two RBIs at U.S. Cellular Field in 2006 in his first trip back to Chicago.