White Sox-Athletics Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- After scuffling the previous few seasons, it appeared as though both Jake Peavy's and Bartolo Colon's best years may be behind them.
The two veteran right-handers, however, have proven plenty formidable early this season.
In a matchup of former Cy Young award winners, Peavy takes the hill opposite Colon as the surging Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics open a three-game set Monday night.
After going a combined 14-13 with a 4.77 ERA and battling numerous injuries from 2010-11, Peavy, who won the NL Cy Young with San Diego in 2007, seems to be back on track.
Peavy (2-0, 2.75 ERA) has struck out 21 over his first three starts spanning 19 2-3 innings, surrendering two walks while holding opponents to a .200 average. He was at his best during Wednesday's 8-1 win over Baltimore, giving up a run and four hits while fanning eight over seven innings.
"I know it's been a long grind with the fans and everybody to get me to this point, but I am healthy," he told the team's official website. "I don't know what I can or can't be after what I've gone through, but I can promise you my effort and preparation is going to be there.
"I feel very blessed to hopefully stay this way for the majority of this year and give my team a quality effort every fifth day."
While Colon (3-1, 2.63) entered this season having gone 22-31 with a 4.72 ERA since winning the 2005 AL Cy Young with the Los Angeles Angels, he too has impressed. Colon has walked just two over four starts covering 27 1-3 innings.
The burly 38-year-old compiled eight innings of four-hit ball and threw 82 of his 108 pitches for strikes - including 38 in a row - in Wednesday's 6-0 road win over the Angels.
"It's a phenomenal feat, yet really not surprising out of him," Bob Melvin said of Colon's 38 consecutive strikes. "I mean, I think he could throw a strike with his eyes closed if he had to. That's the way he's been for us."
Colon was excellent in his most recent matchup against Chicago (9-6), surrendering one run and seven hits over eight innings of a New York Yankees' 3-1 victory last April 27.
Colon, though, could have his hands full this time around against a White Sox team that's won five straight on the road. Chicago is coming off a three-game sweep at Seattle, during which it went 13 for 30 (.433) with runners in scoring position.
One day after Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history during a 4-0 win, the White Sox collected a season-high 12 hits in Sunday's 7-4 victory.
"We played pretty good these three games," said Alex Rios, who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs on Sunday. "It's a confidence boost to us. We've been playing good. We just need to keep doing what we're doing."
Oakland (8-9), meanwhile, won 5-1 on Sunday and salvaged the finale of a three-game set with Cleveland behind a strong effort from starter Tyson Ross.
Batting a major-league worst .178 with runners in scoring position, the A's went 3 for 11 in such situations Sunday.
"We'd like to think each and every time we do come up with runners in scoring position, that the numbers are with us, and we're going to get better and better at it," Melvin told the team's official website. "For the most part you can only hit this low so long, and then you feel like you have a couple owed to you."
Updated April 23, 2012