The first-place White Sox try to bounce back from a tough loss when they open a four-game series against the red-hot Blue Jays, who look to win nine straight games for the first time in 10 years.
Chicago (80-62) lost to the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on Sunday to snap a three-game winning streak. The White Sox led 2-0 after five innings, but the Angels scored the winning run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly that right fielder Jermaine Dye decided to catch in foul territory rather than let drop.
Despite losing Sunday, Chicago maintained its 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Minnesota. The White Sox found out Friday that MVP candidate Carlos Quentin needs surgery on his broken right wrist and could miss the rest of the season,
Toronto (76-66), meanwhile, is eight games behind wild-card leading Boston, but the Blue Jays are playing their best baseball of the season.
Toronto capped a three-game sweep over AL East-leading Tampa Bay with a 1-0 victory on Sunday to extend its season-high winning streak to eight straight games. The Blue Jays got their only run on Rod Barajas’ sacrifice fly, and have not won nine games in a row since reeling off 11 straight Aug. 27-Sept. 7, 1998.
“We have something fun going here,” Barajas told the team’s official Web site.
“If we would’ve had a little better first half, we’d be in a lot better situation.”
The Blue Jays have also had little trouble with the White Sox this season, as they swept a four-game home series from them May 2-5. Toronto has not won five straight over Chicago in a single season since winning seven in a row May 28-Sept. 6, 1989.
The Blue Jays outscored the White Sox 12-5 in their series in May, posting two shutouts.
Toronto’s A.J Burnett (16-10, 4.47 ERA) takes the mound in Monday’s opener in his first start of the season against Chicago.
Burnett allowed three runs and six hits with eight strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings of 5-4, 11-inning win over the Twins on Wednesday, and is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in his last three starts after posting a 3.35 ERA in winning his previous six outings.
Although he didn’t get the win his last time out, Burnett increased his AL-best strikeout total to 201. Burnett, who has 36 strikeouts in 29 2-3 innings over his last four starts, is two strikeouts shy of matching his career high set in 2002.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.55 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox.
Chicago counters with Javier Vazquez (11-12, 4.34), who gave up two runs and five hits in six innings of a 4-2 win over Cleveland on Wednesday to snap a two-start losing streak.
Vazquez has pitched well at home lately, but he has not received much help from his offense. In his last five starts at U.S. Cellular Field, Vazquez is 1-4 with a 3.55 ERA, as he’s been backed by eight total runs of support in those four losses.
Vazquez also pitched well in his only start of the season against Toronto on May 5, but again didn’t get much help. At Rogers Centre, the right-hander allowed one run and eight hits with nine strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings of a 1-0 loss. He is 2-2 with a 1.15 ERA in his last four starts versus the Blue Jays.