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News » Blue Jays-White Sox Preview 2009-04-26

Blue Jays-White Sox Preview 2009-04-26

Blue Jays-White Sox Preview 2009-04-26
Alexei Ramirez's surprising rookie campaign was one reason why the Chicago White Sox captured the American League's Central Division last season.

To get back on track and defend their title, the White Sox could use more performances like the one Ramirez had Saturday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ramirez will try to continue his climb out of an early season slump as the teams complete their three-game series Sunday in Chicago.

After finishing second in the AL rookie of the year voting to Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria in 2008, the Cuban shortstop was hitting .167 through his first 15 games. In Saturday's 10-2 victory, though, he smacked his fifth career grand slam and drove in a career-high five runs to help his team rebound from a 14-0 drubbing Friday.

"I was excited for him," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Hopefully, this is a corner he is going to turn."

Ramirez needed just 152 games to reach five grand slams - second fastest in major league history - and Jermaine Dye added a two-run shot as the White Sox (9-8) recorded 10 runs for the third time this season.

After playing seven years in Cuba, Ramirez had a sparkling major league debut with a .290 average, 21 home runs and 77 RBIs. There might be little need for Guillen to worry as the shortstop was hitting .143 through 18 games last season.

"I feel good that my coaches, my manager showed confidence in me and I think that's important," Ramirez said following Saturday's game through a translator.

The positive vibes from Ramirez's performance and the end of a two-game slide could be short-lived, however, as the White Sox will face Toronto ace Roy Halladay (3-1, 3.72 ERA) on Sunday.

Halladay, though, comes off a 5-4 defeat to visiting Texas on Tuesday night in which he allowed five runs in eight innings - his longest outing this season. The All-Star right-hander also struggled in a 6-5 loss in Chicago on Sept. 10, giving up five runs in only six innings.

Halladay, who is 3-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 10 career starts against the White Sox, allowed three earned runs in his previous three.

The White Sox are hoping that Jose Contreras, like Ramirez, can end his struggles. Contreras (0-3, 8.04) had his worst outing of the season Tuesday night in Baltimore in allowing six runs over 5 1-3 innings.

The veteran right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.15 ERA in six lifetime starts versus Toronto.

After a season-high 21 hits Friday night, the Blue Jays (13-6) had seven Saturday, but manager Cito Gaston isn't concerned with his team batting .298.

"You're going to run into some of that once in a while," he told the team's official Web site. "If we can hold on until we get some people back, we'll be okay. You're going to have some games like that."

Aaron Hill extended his hitting streak to 10 games on a first-inning single. The second baseman, who is hitting a team-leading .376, has three hits in the series, matching his 2008 total against the White Sox.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 26, 2009

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