As the only team in the American League Central with a positive run differential entering the weekend, it isn't a coincidence that the Chicago White Sox also lead the division. Today, they host the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago, which has the third-best run differential (plus-63) in all of baseball, has rattled off four straight victories and is 8-2 over the last 10 games thanks in part to a 4-2 victory in the series opener on Friday.
Jake Peavy notched his seventh win of 2012 for the Sox as he allowed just a single run on five hits and a pair of walks, striking out seven over 7 1/3 innings. Despite giving up a run late, Addison Reed was still credited with his 13th save of the season.
"When you get a lead in a ball game as a starting pitcher, it changes the whole way you go about things," Peavy said. "I know it shouldn't. You shouldn't think much changes. You know you have room to wiggle a little bit. You are more aggressive and it's just nice."
A.J. Pierzynski hit his 16th home run of the campaign, a solo shot, for the Sox, as the bottom of the lineup scored all four runs for the home team. Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko both logged a pair of hits as well.
The Jays, now all alone at the bottom of the AL East having dropped two straight and four of the last six outings, got two hits, including a home run, from Adam Lind in the setback. Edwin Encarnacion scored the other run for a Toronto squad which is nine games out of contention in the division even through it is a respectable 42-42 overall at the moment.
Pitcher Aaron Laffey was saddled with his first loss of the season as he gave up all four runs to the White Sox on eight hits, while fanning four over six innings of action.
Since starting the season with eight wins in nine decisions, Ricky Romero has hit a few sour notes with defeats in each of his last two outings. Nevertheless, the left-hander is still hoping to get back in the win column as he takes the mound for the Jays in this final weekend in the first half of the 2012 campaign.
In the last two games Romero has been touched for a total of 16 earned runs over nine combined innings versus Boston and Kansas City. Earlier this week against the Red Sox, Romero surrendered 11 hits and walked three, leading to eight runs in just six innings of action.
Romero won his only other outing against the White Sox earlier this season, permitting five runs -- three earned -- on six hits over seven innings in a 9-5 final in early June. With that triumph Romero is now 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA in his career versus Chicago.
Countering for the White Sox today will be Gavin Floyd, originally the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The right-hander, winless in five career outings against Toronto with a lofty 7.26 ERA over seven contests, had won two straight decisions to close out the month of June but then bowed to the New York Yankees on the road last weekend.
Against the Bronx Bombers Floyd surrendered four runs on eight hits and walked five, while striking out only three over the course of 5 1/3 innings of action.
Toronto is batting only .254 as a team, yet the squad is still second in the American League in home runs (123) thanks to the efforts of Jose Bautista who leads all of baseball with 27 long balls. Also adding to the power supply for the Jays is Encarnacion who is not only first on the team with a batting average of .296, he is second in home runs with 22.
For Chicago, Adam Dunn has been quite the enigmatic performer thus far. One of the league leaders in home runs with 25, the slugger is batting just .125 over the last seven days and is carrying an overall average of just .210. What's worse is that Dunn tends to be all or nothing at the plate, having struck out a total of 130 times in a mere 286 at-bats.