CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's current five-game winning streak has been fueled by a mix of stellar defensive play, clutch hitting and durable starting pitching -- a little bit of everything that has kept them atop the AL Central standings with the first half of the season coming to a close on Sunday.
And it was all on display in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, when another solid outing by starter Gavin Floyd, a bomb of a two-run homer by Kevin Youkilis and a redeeming defensive play in the ninth helped put the White Sox 10 games over .500 for the first time in two seasons.
It was Floyd’s 7 2/3 innings pitched, in which he allowed just four hits while striking out three, that stood out the most for the Sox, who have barely skipped a beat with starters Philip Humber and John Danks on the disabled list. It was the fourth time in the last five games a White Sox starting pitcher has gone at least seven innings.
“Everyone is trying to step up because of what has happened with John and Phil,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “We’ve had guys like [Jose] Quintana, [Dylan] Axelrod and even Gavin his last few starts have stepped up and taken that role and given us more innings, which is what we needed to protect some of the bullpen guys. It has been a fun go of it here and hopefully it will continue.”
Floyd didn’t feel as though he had his best stuff when he went to the mound to start Friday’s game, but he retired 11 straight batters from the first through fourth innings. He allowed a season-low in hits while matching his season-high in innings pitched and is now 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA over his last four starts. This after a 1-4 mark with a 10.38 ERA in his previous six starts. Floyd threw 61 of his 100 pitches for strikes against the Blue Jays.
“I try to have a good tempo,” he said. “That's my goal every time. I'm trying to get in sync, try to have a good tempo, try to make good pitches.”
As impressive as Floyd was on Saturday, manager Robin Ventura wouldn’t go as far as saying this was his most complete outing of the season. Floyd had his moments in last weekend’s loss at the New York Yankees, and before that start he struck out nine in seven scoreless innings at Minnesota. Saturday was Floyd’s first career win against Toronto.
“Gavin was outstanding today again,” reliever Matt Thornton said. “He’s most of the time the last three starts out been doing a great job. He battled out in New York, but the one previous to that one and the one today, he’s been outstanding. He’s getting on a run and looking good.”