Pitching may have been the talk of the White Sox's most recent series, but tonight they'll be going up against a very capable starter in the Athletics' Bartolo Colon.
Colon looks to extend his scoreless innings streak in Oakland's opener of a three-game series against Chicago.
The 38-year-old was signed to a one-year deal by the A's this past offseason after going 8-10 with a 4.00 earned run average in 2011 with the Yankees. It was his return to the majors following a 12-start stint while with the White Sox in 2009 in which he battled knee and elbow issues.
Colon has looked just fine so far with Oakland, going 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA through four starts while posting consecutive scoreless outings that have spanned 15 innings. That is five frames shy of his career-best streak of 20 straight scoreless innings done from Sept. 13-28, 2000 with Cleveland.
The right-hander opened up the season with three straight meetings with the Mariners and beat them in Seattle be begin his current scoreless streak. He kept that run going by limiting the Angels to just four hits over eight scoreless innings, striking out five without a walk in a game that saw Colon throw 38 straight strikes at one point.
"I had no idea about how many strikes I threw in a row. They told me later," said Colon. "I was happy with the way I pitched tonight. I have to continue to work hard."
Colon is 10-6 with a 3.97 ERA in 20 career meetings with the White Sox.
Oakland snapped a two-game slide with Sunday's 5-1 win over Cleveland as Tyson Ross celebrated his 25th birthday with a victory in which he gave up one run on four hits and five walks over 6 2/3 innings.
"My whole game is keeping the ball down and sinking it, getting some ground balls and letting the defense work," Ross said. "Even with the five walks, I was able to keep the ball down and get some double plays and work my way out of it."
Seth Smith supported Ross with a two-run homer and Cliff Pennington added a pair of RBI.
Oakland could have outfielder Coco Crisp back in the starting lineup tonight as he has been held out of the past five games because of an inner ear infection.
The A's face a former Cy Young Award winner tonight in the White Sox's Jake Peavy, who is healthy to begin the year and has responded with a solid 2.75 ERA through three starts.
The 30-year-old, who has battled ankle and shoulder injuries since joining Chicago during the 2009 season, has won back-to-back games after not factoring into the decision of his first start. Peavy threw a season-high seven innings in a win over Baltimore on Wednesday, allowing one run on four hits with eight strikeouts and zero walks.
The righty has had his control so far in 2012, issuing just two free passes to 21 strikeouts through 19 2/3 innings.
"He just brings the level up and the other guys feed off of that," remarked White Sox manager Robin Ventura about Peavy.
Peavy has faced Oakland just once before and did not get a decision after allowing three runs over six innings.
All eyes were on the White Sox on Saturday when Philip Humber tossed a perfect game against the Mariners. John Danks drew the task of following up the milestone and was good enough to lead Chicago to a 7-4 win and a sweep of the three-game series.
Danks allowed all four runs on seven hits and four walks over six innings. He came away with the win thanks to a three-run sixth inning that featured a game-tying, two-run triple by Alex Rios and Kosuke Fukudome's go-ahead RBI on a sacrifice fly.
"I just let them make plays, trying to throw the ball over the plate and let these guys make plays and fortunately I was able to do that," Danks said. "You have to give all the credit to these guys in the field and what they did at the plate because I didn't have great stuff or a great game for that matter."
Rios ended with three hits and three RBI for the White Sox, who are 6-2 on the road this season. He is batting .389 with six RBi over a 10-game hitting streak and is 4-for-16 lifetime versus Colon with four RBI.
Chicago won six of 10 over Oakland last season, taking two of three on the road.