Blue Jays host White Sox, try again for .500 (Jun 16, 2017)
TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Joe Biagini will be going for his second victory of the season Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.
If he can do it, there will be a more important team result. It would put the Blue Jays at .500 for the first time this season.
The .500 plateau has been elusive for the Blue Jays after they started the season 2-11. This will be the Blue Jays’ seventh attempt to reach the break-even point this season.
The Blue Jays (32-33), after gaining a split in a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 7-6 victory on Wednesday, had Thursday off as the White Sox (29-36) defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 to take the four-game series with three wins.
Rookie Matt Davidson homered for the fourth straight game Thursday for the White Sox and leads the team with 14 home runs on the season. Alex Rios in 2013 is the last White Sox player to homer in four straight games.
The club record for homers in consecutive games is five, which has been accomplished by six players seven times. A.J. Pierzynski was the last to do it in 2012. Frank Thomas accomplished the feat twice. Paul Konerko, Ron Kittle, Carlos Lee and Greg Luzinski also have hit homers in five straight games for the White Sox.
“I’m just trying to ignore everything outside and take every pitch for what it’s worth and be relaxed up there,” Davidson said. “Control my tension, try to have good at-bats and put good swings on the ball. I came off a bad two weeks and now four good games in a row. I know there are ups and downs but it is pretty fun doing that.”
“He’s been able to drive the ball out of the ballpark,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s been able to get to pitches he can handle.”
The White Sox will start left-hander Jose Quintana (2-8, 5.30 ERA) on Friday against Biagini (1-5, 3.38) in the opener of the three-game series at the Rogers Centre.
Quintana is 0-4 with a 6.51 ERA over his past seven starts and has not won since May 2 at Kansas City, when he pitched eight scoreless innings. His 2.65 run support is the lowest in the major leagues.
He is 5-2 with a 1.67 ERA in eight career starts against the Blue Jays. He earned the win in his only start last season on April 27 at the Rogers Centre when he pitched six scoreless innings. He is 4-0 with a 0.68 ERA in four career starts at Toronto.
Biagini will be looking for his first win since May 12, his second start of the season and of his major league career. He is 1-4 with a 3.38 ERA in seven starts since moving from the bullpen May 7.
He has gone seven innings in each of his past starts and the Blue Jays face a decision of whether to keep him in the rotation or return him to the bullpen when Aaron Sanchez returns from a finger injury.
“It’s a good problem to have and we’ll worry about it when the time comes,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker told the Toronto Sun. “When Aaron comes back, we’ll make that decision. But Joe’s throwing the ball great. Certainly, in some ways he’s exceeding our expectations in the rotation and getting deep into ball games. He’s got the weapons to pitch in that rotation and have success.
“We got a small sample size during spring training, but any time you transition someone into the rotation during the season and someone who hasn’t started at the major league level, that’s not easy. He really has done an outstanding job. Getting deep into games and attacking hitters early in counts … I think he’s settling in.”
“It’s nice to get the opportunity to play and to contribute and keep it close,” Biagini said. “It’s fascinating how much you can learn from each game you’ve played. It doesn’t hurt your confidence to get into a little bit of a groove.”
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