The Red Sox look to build on a convincing doubleheader sweep when they continue their four-game series with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday.
Boston (78-51) beat Chicago 11-3 in the first game and 10-1 in the second on Friday, improving to 4-1 on a 10-game road trip that ends next week with three games in New York. The Red Sox, who own the best record in baseball, are trying to fend off the second-place Yankees in the AL East.
“I feel like we’re starting to make a little bit of a push here. We’re starting to play all facets of the game,” said starter Curt Schilling, who earned the win in the second game. “Everybody is doing their thing and it’s a good atmosphere here.”
David Ortiz homered twice in the nightcap, both on the first pitches he saw. Ortiz, who has hit at least 40 homers the last three seasons, had just two homers in his previous 19 games.
The White Sox (56-72), meanwhile, have lost three straight and 11 of 13. They are in last place in the AL Central and fell 16 games under .500 for the first time since 1999.
“Twelve hours of my life I wasted and I’m not going to get it back,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “A tough day for everyone. Pitching, hitting, defense. You just name it. I think that’s one of the reasons they’re in first place and we’re in last place.”
Chicago has lost each of its last five games against the Red Sox after winning the first meeting of the season on July 19 at Fenway Park. Boston has won 12 of its last 15 games at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox hope to bounce back behind Mark Buehrle (9-8, 3.42 ERA), just as they did the last time they were swept in a doubleheader. Buehrle threw eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over Minnesota on July 7, a day after Chicago suffered 20-14 and 12-0 losses to the Twins.
However, Buehrle is 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA over his last three starts. He didn’t get a decision in his last outing on Monday, allowing three runs in 5 1-3 innings of Chicago’s 4-3 win over Kansas City.
“It was one of those games where in the bullpen I didn’t have anything,” Buehrle told the White Sox’s official Web site. “Usually it comes out and it is pretty good in the game because you try to refocus a little more. If you have the stuff you have in the bullpen, you are going to get hit around a little bit.”
Buehrle is making his first start this season against Boston. He is 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 10 career appearances - nine starts - against the Red Sox, but has not defeated them since Aug. 15, 2004 at Fenway Park.
He is 0-3 with a 7.46 ERA in four starts against Boston since then, and the White Sox have lost each of those outings. Ortiz is 15-for-40 (.375) with two homers against him, while left fielder Manny Ramirez is 8-for-21 (.381) with three homers.
The Red Sox counter with Tim Wakefield (15-10, 4.35), who is 8-2 over his last 10 starts and will be trying for his third straight win. The 41-year-old knuckleballer has received a decision in all of his 25 starts, the first to reach that number since Jack McDowell posted decisions in his first 27 starts with the White Sox in 1993.
Wakefield’s consecutive decisions streak is the longest by a Boston pitcher since Danny MacFayden opened the 1929 season with 26 in a row.
Wakefield dominated Tampa Bay on Monday, throwing seven innings in a 6-0 win to extend his scoreless innings streak to 15. He is one shy of the major league lead in wins, held by teammate Josh Beckett, who picked up No. 16 in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.
Wakefield has struggled against the White Sox, going 6-10 with a 5.43 ERA in 26 career appearances, including 17 starts. He has won his last two starts against Chicago, including an 8-5 home win on July 22, after dropping his previous six.