With their season nearly one-quarter over, the Toronto Blue Jays’ surprising run isn’t losing any steam.
After failing for the 15th straight season to reach the playoffs in 2008, Toronto (26-14) has surprisingly surged to the AL’s best record thanks in part to a major league-leading 15 home wins. After dropping four of six to end April, the Blue Jays have bounced back to go 11-5 so far in May, including wins in the first three games of this series.
On Monday, they’ll be aiming for their 10th straight victory at Rogers Centre against the White Sox, and their 14th in the last 16 overall meetings in this series.
In Sunday’s 8-2 victory, Roy Halladay(notes) settled down after giving up two first-inning runs to earn his major league-leading eighth win. The Blue Jays aided him with three home runs - including Aaron Hill’s(notes) team-best 11th - to bring their season run total to 231, the most in the majors.
Toronto has outscored Chicago 38-19 this season in winning five of six meetings.
While the offense has proved consistent, Richmond (4-2, 4.28 ERA) hasn’t.
The 29-year-old rookie won four straight quality starts April 15-May 3, but has since lost his last two outings while allowing five runs in each. The right-hander didn’t make it out of the second inning of Wednesday night’s 8-2 home loss to the New York Yankees, giving up seven hits and walking two in the shortest outing of his 12 career starts.
“He just couldn’t locate his fastball. If you can’t locate your fastball, you’re in trouble,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston told the team’s official Web site. “Hopefully, he’ll get past that and come back and pitch a good game for us.”
Richmond will face a White Sox team that has batted .222 in dropping 11 of its last 14 games. In its fourth consecutive defeat, Chicago (15-21) was 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position Sunday.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is expected to return Monday after missing two games to attend his son’s graduation in Chicago.
“Maybe he’ll be happy to be back, maybe not,” interim manager Joey Cora said. “I don’t know. I’m just trying to hold the fort. It didn’t work out for two days. The same things that have been happening while he was here happened the last two days. Hopefully tomorrow we get it going.”
The White Sox, who have dropped nine of their last 10 away from home, will look to Clayton Richard(notes) (0-0, 5.40) to help end their slide, but the left-hander lasted only 3 1-3 innings Tuesday night in Cleveland in his first start replacing Jose Contreras(notes) in the rotation, giving up four runs, six hits and three walks in a game Chicago ultimately won 7-4.
Richard yielded two runs and five hits in three innings to Toronto in a relief appearance April 24 at home, and allowed five runs in four innings in his only career start versus the Blue Jays last Sept. 9.