Red Sox-White Sox Preview 2009-09-04

As recently as Memorial Day, Paul Byrd and Freddy Garcia were both out of baseball, and it appeared neither might pitch in the majors again. Fast forward to Labor Day weekend, and the veteran right-handers will oppose each other in a game with playoff implications.

Byrd seeks his second straight win since returning to the majors for the Boston Red Sox, who will face Garcia in the opener of a four-game road series against a Chicago White Sox club looking to play the spoiler.

Despite leading the AL wild-card race, the Red Sox (78-55) found themselves in dire need of starting pitching help after Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka went down with injuries and veterans John Smoltz and Brad Penny struggled so much that Boston released them. Enter Byrd (1-0, 0.00 ERA), a 15th-year veteran of seven teams who spent the first four months of the season in retirement until the Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract Aug. 5.

"I'm throwing to a 13 and under team and the Red Sox called and I say, 'I don't know how long I'll take to get ready,"' Byrd recalled.

It took less than a month before Boston purchased his contract and put him into the rotation for a start against Toronto on Sunday. The 38-year-old right-hander responded with six innings of three-hit ball in a 7-0 victory.

"I'm just so excited to be back. I want a World Series ring," said Byrd, who is 8-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 15 starts against the White Sox. "Hopefully I can help this team get there. I'll clean toilets if I have to, and I told them that."

The White Sox (66-69), meanwhile, have seen their World Series hopes go down the drain. The reigning AL Central champions fell out of serious contention during a 3-8 road trip which began with three losses in four games at Boston from Aug. 24-26. Though they won the last two games, 4-2 on Tuesday in Minnesota and 5-0 over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in a makeup game at Wrigley Field, the White Sox are seven games back of Detroit for the division lead.

"I never thought we were going to collapse in two weeks the way that we did because if you look at the lineup every day, it's a pretty good lineup," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Released by the New York Mets in April and signed to a minor-league deal by the White Sox in June, Garcia (0-2, 5.94) has yet to win in three starts since making it back to the majors Aug. 18. The right-hander's best outing came against the Red Sox on Aug. 25, when he allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings but did not get a decision in a 6-3 defeat.

Garcia is 6-2 with a 4.74 ERA in 14 career starts against Boston.

The Red Sox arrive in Chicago after winning two of three in Tampa Bay, including a 6-3 victory Thursday night. Jason Bay doubled twice and drove in two runs, and Rocco Baldelli homered as Boston increased its wild-card lead to three games over Texas.

Last month's series improved Boston to 14-4 in its last 18 games against the White Sox. The Red Sox have outscored Chicago 138-59 in those contests.

Sign up for breaking news alerts from!

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 4, 2009