Toronto’s bullpen has been able to relax recently with Roy Halladay on the mound. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays’ ace, so has his team’s offense.
Looking for some better run support, Halladay will try to avoid becoming the first pitcher in 28 years with four straight complete-game losses as the Blue Jays continue their four-game set with the struggling Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Halladay (2-4, 3.26 ERA) has pitched four complete games in a row to give him a major league-leading 30 since 2003, but is the first Blue Jay to lose three straight such contests since Jim Clancy in 1982. No one’s had four straight complete-game defeats since Oakland’s Rick Langford dropped six in a row in 1980.
The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner had his best outing of the season on Tuesday, but came away on the losing end again. Halladay gave up five hits with a walk and a season high-tying six strikeouts in a 1-0 loss at Boston with the lone run scoring when center fielder Vernon Wells bobbled Kevin Youkilis’ ninth-inning single.
“It’s tough. It’s real tough,” Halladay told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “Sometimes, you give up a run in the first inning and it ends up 1-0, but it’s different. There’s just something about having to walk off the field like that.”
Halladay has gotten only eight of his 17 runs of support this season in his last four games.
“Unfortunately,” Wells said, “this is one of the years where he just hasn’t gotten anything from us. Normally, when he’s on the mound, we go out and score a few runs and let him do what he does. You hate when you’re not swinging the bats for a guy like that.”
Halladay led the majors with seven complete games last season. Toronto scored 23 runs as he went 4-3 with a 1.97 ERA in those contests.
While the surging Blue Jays (14-17) look for their season-high fourth straight win, Chicago (14-14) will try to avoid falling below .500 with a fifth consecutive defeat.
“It’s frustrating,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “All of a sudden, in one week, we forgot how to hit, how to catch the ball, how to run the bases, how to pitch. That happened quick.”
White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera is hitting .321 (9-for-28) with two doubles in his career against Halladay, while four of Jim Thome’s seven hits off him have gone for extra bases (three doubles, home run).
Chicago’s Jose Contreras (2-2, 3.98) seeks his first win in Toronto since September 2003. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays, and 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in 10 games overall.
Last Sunday, Contreras beat Baltimore for the second time this season. He gave up a run and five hits with three walks and three strikeouts over 6 2-3 innings of a 6-1 victory.
“I’m throwing strikes, and the defense is working behind me,” Contreras told the White Sox’s official Web site through an interpreter, “and I’m being aggressive toward the plate. I’m throwing strikes - that’s the most important thing right now.”
Contreras is just 7-6 in 20 career games, including 17 starts, in May. His 3.66 ERA, though, is the lowest he’s recorded in any month.
Wells had three hits and three RBIs on Saturday, and is 5-for-8 in the series, raising his average 26 points to .271. Wells has three doubles in 15 at-bats against Contreras.