Both the Oakland Athletics and the Chicago White Sox find themselves in the thick of a playoff race thanks in large part to their strong rotations.
On Sunday two of those pitchers will be on display as Oakland's Bartolo Colon will square off with Chicago's Chris Sale in the rubber match of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.
Colon won his third straight start without allowing an earned run on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Colon gave up an unearned run and four hits in seven innings to run his record to 9-8, while lowering his ERA to 3.38.
The 39-year-old Colon last won four straight starts May 30-July 2, 2011, with the Yankees.
"The name of the game is throwing strikes," Oakland's Jonny Gomes said. "He's been doing it forever. He knows what he's doing. He knows these hitters. He's a lot of fun to play behind."
Colon, who pitched for the White Sox in 2003 and 2009, is 10-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 21 starts against them.
Sale, meanwhile, will try and improve upon an already fantastic first season as a starter. He ranks fourth in the American League in both wins (13) and ERA (2.59).
After allowing 10 earned runs in his previous two starts, the southpaw got back on track in an Aug. 6 win over the Royals, allowing just two earned runs over eight innings of work while striking out seven.
Sale had been given some extra time off between his last two starts due to fatigue, but he appears ready to finish the season strong.
"I went through a little dead arm period, but it's par for the course," Sale said following his last start. "It's all behind us now. We've got a couple months left and we're going to have to make a push and it's not going to be easy."
The 23-year-old has loved pitching at home, going 6-2 with a 1.71 ERA at U.S. Cellular field this season.
On Saturday, Oakland emerged late to claim a 9-7 win.
After a five-run third inning, highlighted by a pair of two-run hits from Chris Carter and Derek Norris, the A's took a 5-2 lead.
That lead quickly dissipated however, as the White Sox scored runs in each of the next four innings. An A.J. Pierzynski RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave Chicago a 7-6 advantage.
A Gomes solo shot in the top of the eighth tied the game up at 7-7, and a Brandon Inge RBI single later in the inning gave the A's the lead for good.
"I guess it just shows two teams that don't want to give up." Inge said. "I like that."
Oakland starter Travis Blackey surrendered five earned runs in five innings of work. Ryan Cook (5-2) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and earned the win, while Grant Balfour closed the game out for his eighth save.
Francisco Liriano had his first bad outing as a member of the White Sox, allowing seven hits, three walks, and six earned runs over 3 1/3 innings, but it was Matt Thornton (4-8) who earned the loss after allowing the two runs in the eighth.
Carter and Coco Crisp each had three hits for Oakland, while Tyler Flowers also had three knocks and three RBI for Chicago. Kevin Youkilis belted his 14th homer of the season for the home team.