White Sox 5, Devil Rays 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Finally, the White Sox might be turning their season around.
The modest winning streak, following a 5-22 stretch, comes after general manager Ken Williams last Sunday said roster changes were likely.
“These guys get used to controversies in the media,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They play with a manager that’s always in controversies with the media. I think they block what happens off the field.”
Vazquez (4-5) won for the second time in his last 13 starts. He gave up seven hits, three walks and had 10 strikeouts—his 30th career game with 10 or more.
“Winning all four games was great, so it’s a start,” Vazquez said. “It’s always nice to pitch good to get the win. Hopefully, we can play better from now on and play like we are right now.”
“I guess we were just due for some wins,” Konerko said. “But there was no evidence leading up to this series that we would sweep anybody.”
Tadahito Iguchi added a fourth-inning homer for the White Sox, who hadn’t recorded a series sweep since last Aug. 11-13 against Detroit.
Ty Wigginton hit a run-scoring grounder in the fourth for Tampa Bay (33-44), which scored nine runs in the series and fell a season-worst 11 games under .500.
“Their starting pitching beat us up,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “When their starters get hot, they’re very good and they pitch well.”
Kazmir (5-4) continued a season-long problem of high pitch counts, throwing 114 in 5 1-3 innings. He allowed four runs and six hits, and ran his winless streak at home to 14 starts—including four losses—since a two-hit complete game victory over Boston last July 3.
“It’s frustrating,” said Kazmir, who has lasted six or less innings in five straight starts. “It’s the same pitch count again. You just have to keep battling.”
Vazquez has struck out at least one batter in 238 consecutive starts, the second-longest streak among active pitchers. Pedro Martinez (293) tops the list. Roger Clemens’ streak ended at 200 Wednesday night against Baltimore.
Chicago batters struck out 10 or more times in all four games of the series. Guillen, who has joked all week about a pizza giveaway for fans when the opposing team reaches 10 strikeouts, tipped his hat and held up a pizza box in the dugout when Juan Uribe became the 10th White Sox player to strikeout in the sixth.
“Right now we can get away with that because of the way we’re pitching,” Guillen said. “It’s nice to strike out and win games. You don’t care how many strikeouts you had. It’s how many wins and losses you have.”
There was no announcement regarding a contract extension for White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, who is eligible to become a free agent after the season. Trade rumors continue swirling around the left-hander.
“There’s no comment on any contract situation because it’s ongoing, and I don’t want to say anything and get you guys confused,” Buehrle said. “I haven’t heard any deadlines or anything like that.”
Buehrle met with his agent Thursday. White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn, who flew to Florida on Wednesday, returned to Chicago.
“We’ll see what happens here,” Guillen said. “Hopefully whatever happens, happens quick and move on. No matter what that is … the good one or the bad one. I hope it’s more good than the bad.”
White Sox RF Jermaine Dye (strained quadriceps) missed his sixth straight game and could go on the disabled list. Dye doesn’t think he will be able to play Friday. “If he can’t play tomorrow, we’ve got to do something about it,” Guillen said. … Kazmir struck out nine and walked three. … Devil Rays CF Delmon Young singled in the second, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games.