Blue Jays-White Sox Preview

Toronto Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson seems like a strong candidate to participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

If invited, he may want to consider selecting someone from the Chicago White Sox staff to pitch to him.

Donaldson, who has repeatedly hit John Danks hard, looks to continue to feast on White Sox pitching on Wednesday night in Chicago.

Donaldson took part in last season’s Home Run Derby and is heading to Cincinnati for Tuesday’s All-Star Game after setting a record for most fan votes with 14.09 million. He has 21 homers this season, and White Sox pitchers have been the primary contributors to that total.

In five games against Chicago (37-44), Donaldson is 10 for 17 with six homers. The last player to hit seven homers against the White Sox in a single season was Justin Morneau, who hit eight in 18 games in 2007.

Donaldson’s fourth-inning homer Tuesday put the Blue Jays ahead in a 2-1 victory, just the second time Toronto won when scoring two runs or less.

”We’re used to slugfests,” manager John Gibbons said. ”It was nice to play a game like that and come out on top.”

One of Donaldson’s homers this year came against Danks, against whom he is 5 for 8 with two home runs and two doubles since the start of last season.

Donaldson is batting .343 against left-handers and the Blue Jays (44-42) are hitting .295 against southpaws – baseball’s best mark since 2007. Toronto’s .841 OPS against lefties is the best since the 2009 New York Yankees had an .846.

None of this bodes particularly well for Danks (4-8, 4.95 ERA), whose opponent OPS of .843 is the AL’s worst.

Danks’ season has gone so badly the White Sox skipped his last turn in the rotation. However, he responded by yielding five hits over seven innings in Friday’s 1-0 win over Baltimore.

”I pitched my way into being the guy that gets skipped,” said Danks, who had a 6.85 ERA in losing his four prior outings. ”I understand that. My goal is to be consistent, go out there and work my way into being one of the top guys again. My job is when I get the ball is to go deep in the game and give us a chance to win. Hopefully, this will start a nice little run for me.”

Building on that outing could be a challenge, however, given his track record against Toronto. Danks gave up six runs in five innings of a 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays on May 26, raising his ERA to 6.23 in nine career starts in the series.

While Toronto’s lineup appears poised for success, there’s reason to believe that even the White Sox’s anemic offense can also get something going considering Drew Hutchison’s road woes.

Hutchison is 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA in eight home starts but he’s struggling mightily away from Toronto, posting a 9.00 ERA – the worst among those with at least 40 innings pitched on the road. Opponents have a 1.016 OPS in his nine road starts.

Hutchison (8-2, 5.23) is coming off another one of his road hiccups, permitting seven runs – five earned – and a season-high 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings of Friday’s 8-6 loss to Detroit.

Fittingly, the right-hander was brilliant at home against the White Sox on May 25, tossing a four-hitter with eight strikeouts and no walks in a 6-0 win.

Chicago, last in the AL with a .651 OPS, finished with seven hits Tuesday and plated one run for the third time in five games.