Baseball

Halladay gets the call as Jays go for 6th series win

One game after the Toronto Blue Jays were crushed 10-2 by the Chicago White Sox on a rainy Saturday night in the South Side, they turn to Roy Halladay on Sunday to wrap up a sixth-straight series win to start the year.

Toronto ace threw two bad pitches in his last outing and lost

This is what your ace is for.

One game after the Toronto Blue Jays were crushed 10-2 by the Chicago White Sox on a rainy Saturday night in the South Side, they turn to Roy Halladay on Sunday to wrap up a sixth-straight series win to start the year.

Last time out, the man they call Doc gave up five runs (including a pair of two-run homers), in eight innings of work as Halladay lost his first of the campaign, 5-4 to Texas.

On the other hand, he also struck out nine that day and walked just one. Two bad pitches.

"That is the tough part," Halladay said after the Tuesday start. "[Texas] has the ability to hit home runs, especially when you don't make quality pitches."

Toronto (13-6) had started the year with a patchwork starting pitching staff thanks to long-term injuries and the loss of A.J. Burnett to free agency.

Then Jesse Litsch and rookie Ricky Romero went down, putting reliever Brian Tallet and call-up Brian Burres, a former Baltimore Oriole lefty who lost the Saturday night game with Chicago, into the rotation.

All of that means each time Halladay comes out, a win is pretty much called for to take pressure off the rest of the hurlers.

Can't find the strike zone

Though 3-1 so far in 2009, the Jays' ace has had a bit of a brain cramp when it comes to playing the White Sox — he's 3-4 with a 3.17 earned run average in 10 career starts.

Manager Cito Gaston knows the point is to keep everyone's head above water while Litsch and Romero rehab.

"If we can hold on until we get some people back, we'll be OK," said Gaston. "You're going to have some games like [Saturday's].

Chicago (9-8) has been tooling around at .500 so far, helped not a lick by the poor outings from righthander Jose Contreras (0-3, 8.04 ERA) who starts Sunday against Halladay.

Contreras' problem is simple — he can't find the strike zone. In a 10-3 loss to Baltimore last week, Contreras threw 100 pitches but only 58 for strikes.

He insists everything is fine after recovering from a ruptured left Achilles that cut short his 2008 season, but as MLB.com pointed out, not making it to six innings in any of his last three starts has not exactly inspired his teammates.

Toronto's astonishing offensive start, one that has left them first overall in almost every category in the American League, will be especially challenging for Contreras, who can take the opportunity to restore some confidence in his employers.

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