When the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox meet Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, a starting pitcher will be looking to maintain a perfect record.
Andre Rienzo, not Masahiro Tanaka.
While Chicago’s pitcher is after his fifth victory in seven starts as well as a series win in the finale of this four-game set, Tanaka is out to bounce back from his first big league loss.
Including his final two years in Japan, Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA) had gone 42 regular-season starts without a loss prior to Tuesday’s 6-1 defeat to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The right-hander is hoping for better command on the South Side after allowing a season-high four runs – three earned – in six innings Tuesday.
"I try to go out there to do my best every time out," Tanaka said through a translator. "But given the outing last time, yes, I really want to go out there and perform better."
Manager Joe Girardi is interested to see how Tanaka will recover.
"I mean, see how he handles it, but I’m sure he’ll handle it well, just like he has everything else," Girardi said.
Tanaka has yet to face the White Sox (25-26), which is also the case for Rienzo (4-0, 4.00) against the Yankees (25-23).
The right-hander has held opponents to a .212 average since joining the rotation, and the White Sox have won each of his six starts, including a 7-6 victory in Kansas City on Tuesday. Rienzo surrendered two runs in six innings and struck out a career-high eight while earning the win.
"He’s kept us in pretty much every ballgame," White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn told the team’s official website.
That might not matter much if the bullpen can’t clean things up. White Sox relievers allowed four runs in two innings of Saturday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss, including Jacoby Ellsbury’s winning solo homer with two outs in the 10th after the Yankees tied it with a three-run ninth.
The bullpen has an 8.49 ERA in the last five games.
New York snapped eight-game road skid against Chicago. They’ll try for a split of the series as Derek Jeter, who passed White Sox great Luis Aparicio for second all-time in games at shortstop with 2,584 on Saturday, plays his final regular-season contest at U.S. Cellular.
Despite an 0-for-5 game Saturday, the New York captain has batted .385 there since the start of 2011. He’ll be honored by the White Sox before the game.
Ellsbury went 2 for 5 after a 4-for-43 effort in his previous 12 contests.
The Yankees’ six-game stretch in Chicago – two at Wrigley preceding this set – has seen them bat .209 in the first five, yet the Yankees can still end it with a 3-3 mark before heading to St. Louis.
"We haven’t been playing our best baseball, but to get wins like this, it can lead into the right direction," catcher Brian McCann said.
The White Sox got three-hit efforts from leadoff hitter Adam Eaton and No. 2 batter Gordon Beckham on Saturday. Eaton is 8 for 14 in the series while Beckham has batted .381 in his last 10 games to boost his average to a season-best .291.
Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts was out of the lineup Saturday after fouling a ball off his kneecap Friday.
White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie sat due to a sore left Achilles, though he said he should be available Sunday.