Chris Sale just pitched the Chicago White Sox back into the win column with the first complete game of his career. Philip Humber knows a thing or two about going the distance and will take his turn tonight in the opener of a three-game series versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
Humber has the luxury of following Sale's gem in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners in the finale of a three-game set. The Mariners ended Chicago's season-high nine-game winning streak with a 12-inning victory on Saturday, but couldn't find a way to stop Sale in the series' rubber match.
Sale struck out eight, walked two and allowed two runs and five hits to push his record to 7-2 this season. Eighty-one of his 119 pitches went for strikes.
"He was great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Sale. "He was jumping ahead and making guys swing and miss. He just keeps getting better, if there's any way to do that after 15 strikeouts."
Sale was named the AL's Pitcher of the Month for May and went 4-1 with a league-best 1.71 ERA over six games in the month. He has won his last four starts and allowed just four runs over that stretch.
Alex Rios knocked in a pair of runs, while Brent Lillibridge and Gordon Beckham had an RBI apiece for the American League Central-leading White Sox, who have won their last five series and are 14-2 in the last 16 games. Chicago is 2 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland for division bragging rights and will also host Houston on this homestand.
Meanwhile, Humber tossed a no-hitter back on April 21 at Seattle, but went on to lose two of his next six starts. He finally ended a string of three straight no-decisions with seven innings of two-run ball in a 7-2 victory at Tampa Bay last Tuesday. The effort lifted his record to 2-2 in nine starts and lowered his earned run average to 5.37.
Humber, a right-hander, is 0-1 in five home starts in 2012 and will face Toronto for the fifth time in his career. He has no record and a 3.24 ERA over the first four appearances, two of which have been starts.
Toronto will begin a six-game road trip against the White Sox and Braves, and hopes to put the brakes on a five-game road losing streak.
The Blue Jays just went 4-2 on a six-game homestand versus Baltimore and Boston, and salvaged the finale of a three-game series with Sunday's 5-1 win over the Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Jays slugger Jose Bautista cracked a three- run homer in the first inning and Toronto added two more runs in the second to further cement the victory.
Bautista homered for the second straight game and finished with four RBI for the Blue Jays, who are tied with Boston at three games off the lead in the American League East. Bautista owns 14 homers and 37 RBI this season. Jays starter Drew Hutchison improved to 5-2 this season by holding Boston to a run and five hits over seven innings.
"Hutch continues to mature right in front of our eyes," remarked Blue Jays manager John Farrell about Hutchinson. "He kept going out, putting up zeros to keep the momentum on our side."
Blue Jays other slugger Edwin Encarnacion is day-to-day after he was hit on the right hand during Sunday's game. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning and he is batting .279 with a club-best 17 home runs and 43 RBI.
Ricky Romero draws the start for Toronto tonight and he is 6-1 with a 4.04 earned run average in 11 starts this season. He has received 26 runs of support over his last three starts, going 2-0 in that stretch, and just got by Baltimore in an 8-6 win last Tuesday. Romero allowed four runs in six innings for a second straight start and has fanned seven batters in back-to-back outings. Romero has eight walks in that period as well.
The left-hander is 1-1 in five road assignments this season and will make his fourth career start against Chicago tonight. Romero is 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA in the first three performances in this matchup.
Toronto and Chicago are meeting for the first time since the Blue Jays won four of seven encounters a season ago.