The legend of Jose Abreu continues to grow, but the enormous early achievements for the rookie have yet to translate into an overall level of success for his Chicago White Sox. Abreu his and teammates shoot for back-to-back wins for just the second time since June 11 on Saturday as they battle the Toronto Blue Jays in the third of a four-game set.
Trying to slow down Abreu for the Jays is rookie hurler Marcus Stroman, a product of Duke. The right-hander, making his first-ever appearance against Chicago, managed to break a minor two-game slide on Monday as he allowed just a single run on three hits, striking out seven, over eight innings against the New York Yankees at home.
Stroman has appeared in four day games this season already, but the results have been somewhat hard to swallow, even though he has a record of 1-1 in such games. He is also carrying a lofty 5.65 ERA in those 14 1/3 innings.
Chicago, which is alone in last place in the AL Central, has the second- highest team ERA in the league at 4.40 and is the only club yet to register a shutout on the campaign. Conversely, Toronto is second in the AL with 10 shutouts, although the Jays are 11th in overall ERA with a 4.09 mark.
Chicago's first baseman posted two more home runs on Friday as the Sox slipped by Toronto in a 5-4 decision. The victory snapped a brief two-game slide for a Chicago club that is 10 games below .500 (16-26) on the road.
Abreu, though, now has four multi-homer games through his first 67 contests, becoming the first player since Atlanta's Bob Horner in 1978 to achieve such a feat. Abreu is also tied with Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz of Baltimore for the Major League lead in home runs with 25.
"I'm glad he's on my team," said White Sox starter John Danks, who picked up his seventh win of the campaign. "I'm glad I don't have to face him."
Danks made it through six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, two of those being home runs. A host of relievers handed the game to Jake Petricka who picked up his second save of the season by recording just a pair of outs in the ninth.
Former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey was saddled with the loss as he was hammered for four home runs, five runs overall on just five hits. The knuckleballer did strike out nine and walk only one through six innings, but it just wasn't enough.
"I felt very good with it, tonight was a very bizarre outing," Dickey said. "I don't know how else to explain it, to give up five hits and four of them being home runs. To walk one guy and strikeout nine and leave the game after six innings giving up five runs, that's a bizarre outing."
Encarnacion, who is second in the league in RBI with 65, delivered on his 25th home run, a solo effort, while Colby Rasmus and Dioner Navarro also went deep for a Toronto team which is still holding down first place in the AL East, 1 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore entering play today.
After missing almost the entire month of March, Chris Sale is now aiming to come up with his seventh win in eight decisions as he heads to the mound for the White Sox this afternoon. The left-hander pitched on Monday against Baltimore on the road but failed to earn a decision as Chicago was handed a 6-4 loss.
Sale made it through just six innings for the second game in a row, permitting a mere two runs as he scattered a season-high 11 hits and struck out three.
Now in his fifth season in the majors, Sale has pitched against Toronto four times previously but is still awaiting his first favorable outcome (0-2), although he has been credited with a save in one of those contests.