Looking at Jose Abreu's statistics in what has so far been a rookie campaign for the ages, and trying to find a silver lining if you're the Toronto Blue Jays is a tall order. Especially if you consider the following: The right-handed-hitting slugger is hitting right-handed pitching far better than he's hitting southpaws.
After belting two homers to help lift the White Sox to a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays on Friday, tying him with Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion and Baltimore's Nelson Cruz for the Major League lead with 25, Abreu enters Saturday's contest batting .293 against right-handers as opposed to .242 against lefties.
Enter Blue Jays rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman, who will be tasked with keeping Abreu in the ballpark on Saturday, let alone trying to get him out.
Stroman made his Major League debut out of the Blue Jays' bullpen on May 4 and struggled as a reliever, posting a 12.79 ERA in five appearances. But since being tabbed as a starter following a stint with Triple-A Buffalo for the purpose of throwing starter innings, he's been good, posting a 2.43 ERA in five starts.
Stroman was stellar in his most recent outing, allowing a run on three hits while walking one and striking out seven over eight innings against the Yankees on Monday. The only run for New York came on a fourth-inning homer by Mark Teixeira.
"Sometimes I just get too excited and overamped, and that's when I elevate," Stroman said of the pitch to Teixeira. "[Pitching coach] Pete [Walker] is always reminding me in my ear, in between each inning, just really drive in down through the zone, and when I'm down there, I feel like I can be effective."
Stroman will have to be vigilant with pitch location to Abreu, who is batting .367 with six home runs and 12 RBIs during his current 12-game hitting streak.
If Abreu's hot streak wasn't bad enough news for Toronto, the Blue Jays are scheduled to face White Sox ace Chris Sale. The hard-throwing left-hander had a rough start by his standards in his last outing, allowing two runs on a career-high 11 hits over six innings in a no-decision against the Orioles on Monday. He struck out a season-low three batters.
Overall, however, Sale has been his usual dominant self over his last seven outings, going 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 49 and walking only four in that span.
Sale has made two career appearances against the Blue Jays, going 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA (four earned runs in 12 innings pitched). His only start against Toronto came last season at Rogers Centre on April 18, when he gave up two earned runs over seven innings.
Sale said earlier this month that it's all about quality over quantity when it comes to his approach on the mound.
"That's the key, throwing quality strikes instead of quantity of strikes," he said. "For me, it's just staying on top of stuff, trying to throw as many strikes as I can and go as deep in the game as I possibly can."
White Sox: Eaton day to day with leg soreness
Center fielder Adam Eaton had to exit Thursday's series opener against the Blue Jays in the first inning after hitting a chopper to second base and getting thrown out at first. As he was running, Eaton winced in pain as a result of what manager Robin Ventura said was a recurrence of a hamstring issue he dealt with earlier this season.
Eaton hoped he would be able to return on Friday, but he was held out of the lineup and is day to day.
"It's probably hamstring more than anything," Ventura said. "Similar to what he had last time [when Eaton was placed on the 15-day disabled list], just not to the degree that he would need to sit out as much. But I think it gets to the point where [his legs] are tired and sore, and you have to rest them."
Blue Jays: Bautista to test hamstring Saturday
Right fielder Jose Bautista strained his left hamstring running to first base in last Sunday's game against the Reds in Cincinnati and has been out of the lineup since. He is scheduled to test the hamstring on Saturday, going through running drills that will determine whether he will be able to play as soon as Sunday or require a short stint on the DL.
If all goes well, Bautista could play Sunday, or the Blue Jays may wait until after the off-day on Monday to give him an extra couple of days to rest the hamstring before returning to action.
"I wouldn't expect [him to play Saturday]," manager John Gibbons said on Friday. "Let him run around, get his treatment and hopefully the next day. That'd be my guess. He'll heat it up, and then you cool off waiting to play the game. You never know how that affects you. You don't want a setback."
• Chicago's four home runs in Friday's win (two from Abreu, one from Alexei Ramirez and one from Dayan Viciedo) was one more than the total number of homers the club had hit over its previous six games.
• White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza is batting .373 (22-for-59) with six doubles in his last 19 games.
• With his solo homer in Friday's loss, Encarnacion matched his career high for home runs prior to the All-Star break with 25 (he also hit 25 prior to the All-Star break last season).
• Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro is batting .357 (15-for-42) with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs over his last 11 games.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.