Chicago (9-6) at Tampa Bay (7-9)

Fair Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Fri Apr 18, 2008
  • TV: CSN, FSFL
Preview | Box Score | Recap

In just three starts, Javier Vazquez is already making sure the success he enjoyed last season carries into 2008.

The right-hander will try for his third straight win as the Chicago White Sox open a three-game road series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Vazquez led the White Sox (9-6) with 15 wins—one shy of the career high he posted in 2001 with Montreal—and concluded 2007 with a run of four consecutive victories.

Vazquez (2-1, 3.32 ERA) lost his first outing of the year, but has bounced back to win his last two, improving to 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA in seven overall starts.

He enters this game with a 10-inning scoreless streak after limiting Detroit to just five hits and striking out nine in seven innings of an 11-0 home victory on Sunday.

“I mean, I would love to get that many runs every time out,” Vazquez told Chicago’s official Web site. “But I have to forget what the score is and keep pitching the way (I am) pitching, throw (my) game and don’t change anything.”

Vazquez looks to keep that philosophy when he faces the Rays (7-9). He is 4-2 with a 4.66 ERA in nine career starts against them, and has a 2-1 record and 5.16 ERA in five games at Tampa Bay.

His last appearance against the Rays came on the road, where he struck out 10 in a 5-1 win on June 28.

The White Sox have enjoyed facing the Rays, recording a four-game sweep there last year as part of their current five-game winning streak against them. They were 6-1 versus Tampa in 2007.

That accomplishment should help Chicago bounce back after a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Baltimore on Thursday that resulted in a split of the two-game set.

Bobby Jenks blew a save for the first time in 10 opportunities for the White Sox, who lost for just the second time in six games. The relief staff entered with a 1.00 ERA in its previous five games, but gave up four runs in 3 1-3 innings.

“The best thing we have had so far is our bullpen, and they didn’t get it done tonight,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Carlos Quentin homered twice, and Joe Crede added a solo shot to increase his team-leading numbers to five homers and 18 RBIs. Quentin is second with four and 15, respectively.

Quentin has a homer and three RBIs in two appearances, but Crede has hit .232 (23-for-99) with three homers and 16 RBIs in 29 games versus the Rays.

Both Quentin and Crede will get their first look at Tampa Bay rookie Jeff Niemann (1-0, 1.50), who looks to build off of an impressive major league debut.

The 6-foot-9 right-hander, the fourth overall selection in the 2004 amateur draft, allowed just one run and six hits in six innings of a 6-2 home win over Baltimore on Sunday.

“I liked the way he never lost his composure,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said after that game. “He’s got a really good makeup. He pitched really well. It’s a great first step for him. He did just a wonderful job his first time out.”

The Rays ended a three-game skid with Thursday’s 7-3 victory at Minnesota that salvaged a split of the two-game series. Nathan Haynes had two RBIs, and J.P. Howell threw three scoreless innings to earn his first career save for the Rays, who are starting a nine-game homestand.

Haynes, however, replaced Carlos Pena, who left in the fourth inning with tightness in his right hamstring and is listed day-to-day.

Pena is batting just .193 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs in 68 lifetime games against the White Sox, and is 1-for-11 (.091) versus Vazquez.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Vazquez Mia vs. J. Niemann TB
12-16 Record 2-2
4.67 ERA 5.06
200 K 14
61 BB 8
1.32 WHIP 1.63

Scoreboard

Friday, Apr 18