Erik Johnson had one of the stranger outings of his young career last Sunday against the Rangers, but still emerged the winner in a 16-2 White Sox victory.
Johnson left after five innings and 87 pitches, of which only 44 were thrown for strikes, while walking five. Four of those walks were issued to the leadoff hitter in each of the first four innings.
He allowed two runs (one earned) on just one hit.
"For him to end up where he did in that game, you can see the stuff is there," Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Johnson, who has held right-handed hitters to a .204 average in his career. "You eliminate the harder stuff, which is walking guys to put yourself in a bad spot, and he finds a way to pitch out of it.
"But you see the stuff there, that's definite. If he can eliminate putting himself in a bind, you like what you see."
Johnson makes the start Friday night as the White Sox open a homestand against the Rays. He'll be opposed by right-hander Chris Archer, who bounced back from a seven-run outing against the Orioles to hold the Yankees to one run over 6 2/3 innings his last time out.
"I know they have some guys who are really hot right now," Archer said. "They have guys who have hit a lot of home runs in the past. They have some speed. I don't treat it any differently. In my bullpen sessions this past week, I simulated facing all of their hitters and making pitches in different situations -- in my mind. And hopefully when I'm in that situation it won't be foreign."
The "guys" who Archer noted as being hot at the plate for the White Sox include Jose Abreu, Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers. With three hits on Thursday, Viciedo (.377) led the American League in hitting, while Abreu sported a .360 (9-for-25) average with eight runs, three doubles, three homers and seven RBI over his last six games.
Rays: Hanigan the American League's version of Cards' Molina
The closest in the American League to Hanigan's career caught-stealing percentage is Red Sox backup catcher David Ross (38.5 percent).
White Sox: De Aza trying to break loose from slump
Alejandro De Aza started the 2014 season with a bang, knocking out two home runs on Opening Day at U.S. Cellular Field. The left-handed-hitting outfielder has not done a great deal with the bat since, entering Friday's contest in an 8-for-63 drought, though he went 1-for-3 with a walk in Thursday's loss to the Tigers.
White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson believes De Aza is getting closer to the approach needed for renewed success with the bat.
"He has very good hands and for him that's a help and a hindrance," said Steverson of De Aza. "The bat just flips over on him some time and he rolls over. He's getting back to what he does well, using the whole field. Shoot balls up the middle and the other way.
"When they come inside, he still has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark or off that wall. But he can't go up there with a singular mindset, especially when they are not giving you pitches to do that with. He's getting back to using the whole field and getting more length to his swing."
With Adam Eaton returning to the starting lineup either Friday or Saturday against the Rays, De Aza or Jordan Danks will have to return to the bench. Danks, the better defensive outfielder of the two, has two hits in his last 26 at-bats.
• Second baseman Gordon Beckham went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first start of the season against the Tigers on Thursday. He started the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.
Third baseman Conor Gillaspie most likely will be out of action again on Friday after missing the past three game with a sore left hand. Look for Beckham at second and Marcus Semien at third base.
• With seven home runs and 21 RBIs, Abreu has set the franchise record for both categories among rookies in March and April.
• This game marks the beginning of the Rays' second road trip of the season. After their four-game set in Chicago, they head to Boston and New York to play the Red Sox and Yankees each in a three-game series. The Rays split with the White Sox in their last trip to Chicago on April 25-28, 2013.
• The White Sox 7-4 loss to Detroit on Thursday ended on an Abreu strikeout and an interference call against Abreu made by home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna when catcher Bryan Holaday tried to throw out Marcus Semien stealing second. According to STATS, the last time this happened was Aug. 8, 2006, when Texas' Mark DeRosa struck out and interfered with Oakland catcher Jason Kendall and runner Jerry Hairston, Jr. being ruled out trying to steal second.