The Chicago White Sox were unable to extend a pair of winning streaks their last time out, but having one of baseball’s hottest starters on the mound could help them begin a new one.
Heading into this series, Chicago (49-36) had reeled off seven consecutive wins - one shy of a season high - and had won nine in a row at home to match a season high.
However, both streaks were snapped in a series-opening 3-2 defeat to Oakland (46-39) on Thursday. The White Sox’s lead in the AL Central slipped to two games over idle Minnesota.
“You can’t win them all,” Chicago’s Dewayne Wise told the team’s official Web site. “We just need to have fun and play White Sox baseball and come out tomorrow to try to get one.”
The series opener was a good example of why these pitching staffs are 1-2 in the majors in ERA, with the White Sox at 3.37 and the A’s at 3.43. While Chicago’s Javier Vazquez went the distance as he struck out 10 and allowed four hits, Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer gave up two runs in seven innings—his major league-best ERA rose to 1.96—before relievers Alan Embree and Huston Street finished the win.
Few pitchers, if any, have been better lately than Buehrle (6-6, 3.79 ERA). He is 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in his last five starts, lasting at least seven innings in each outing.
The left-hander gave up an unearned run in seven innings of a 5-1 home victory over the crosstown Cubs on Sunday.
“My velocity was up there, and that makes all my other pitches good,” said Buehrle, who now seeks to win a fifth consecutive decision for the first time since he took nine straight from April 16-June 28, 2005.
Buehrle has a 2.57 ERA in his last five starts versus Oakland, but is 1-3 in that span. He surrendered two runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 2-1 home loss to the A’s on April 14.
Buehrle is 3-10 with a 3.78 ERA in 22 career appearances - 18 starts - versus the Athletics. All of Buehrle’s wins against Oakland have come at U.S. Cellular Field, where he is 3-2 with a 2.96 ERA in seven starts this season.
White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye had two hits and an RBI on Thursday, and has batted .368 (14-for-38) with two homers and five RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak versus the Athletics.
The A’s now hope to build some momentum behind struggling Joe Blanton (4-11, 4.97), who is 1-5 with a 7.49 ERA in his last six starts.
The right-hander was roughed up for seven runs and eight hits in four innings of an 11-1 home loss to San Francisco on Sunday, becoming the first AL pitcher to reach 11 losses.
“I felt well going out but the numbers looked like crap by the end of the day,” said Blanton, who lost a career-high 12 games in 2005 and 2006. “It’s like it’s over before you know it. That’s how it’s been this season for me.”
Blanton is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA in three career starts versus the White Sox, winning his last outing against them as he pitched seven scoreless innings in a 3-2 home victory on Aug. 15.
A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby missed his first game this year Thursday due to a strained left hamstring. He remains day-to-day.