The Blue Jays will welcome the White Sox in for a four-game series starting Monday night, having won 16 of the teams' past 20 contests at Rogers Centre since 2007. All of those games took place in early June or before, including last season, when Toronto won three of four.
"Yeah, over the years I've been here, we've been a slow starting team," White Sox reliever Matt Thornton said. "That might come into play on it. But at this point of the year, we are in mid-August and it's going to be a great race down to the end.
"Every game matters and we can't afford to give games away. We go out and play the game right and do things right, and it comes down to if you get beat, you get beat. ... Looking forward to it, four-game set, big series."
While Toronto is in last place in the AL East, Chicago is holding a slim lead over Detroit in the AL Central, with four other clubs sticking close in the Wild Card race. The White Sox, starting a seven-game road swing, have won 12 of their last 17.
Jake Peavy will take the mound for Chicago. The veteran right-hander is 9-8 with a 3.08 ERA this season, including two outings against the Blue Jays, both at U.S. Cellular Field. He tossed 13 1/3 innings over those games, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits.
Peavy took a loss on Tuesday against the Royals, surrendering three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Kansas City reached him for two runs on five hits in the seventh to rally from a 2-1 deficit.
"Losing is losing. I got outpitched. I don't like to lose. I just hate to lose," Peavy said. "I wish I could have done more to help us win, I really do. It stinks when you feel like you have a chance to win and you don't. You get so close and you could have done things differently to win."
The Blue Jays, who snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday, will counter Peavy with Carlos Villanueva. The righty will be making his eighth start after opening the season with 22 relief appearances.
Villanueva is 6-2 with a 3.30 ERA overall, including a 3.35 mark as a starter. He has given up three or fewer runs in six of his outings, including Wednesday at Tampa Bay, where he lost despite another quality start. Pitching on six days of rest after traveling to the Dominican Republic to visit an ill family member, Villanueva struck out seven and walked three in six innings.
"Carlos, for the extra couple of days down, may have affected a little bit of the overall command," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "But still, six innings, three runs, he more than did his job tonight."
White Sox: Konerko out for Toronto series
First baseman Paul Konerko won't make the trip north of the border, since he is on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion and won't be eligible to return until Friday, when the White Sox move on to Kansas City.
Konerko suffered the injury on Tuesday against the Royals, when he got hit with Jarrod Dyson's elbow while Dyson beat out an infield single. A positive result in Konerko's concussion-related exam on Monday could allow him to resume baseball activities the next day.
"He felt a little better yesterday, but he hasn't done any activity. Exert himself. Running, workout, that's really the next step," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Once he feels he's able to start doing things, running around and maybe swinging a bat. Most of the symptoms go away, and then you try to get some activity in and see where it goes."
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis didn't play on Sunday, a day after he was hit by a pitch on the left forearm. Youkilis, who also is dealing with a sore right knee, is day to day.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion keeps crushing it
Edwin Encarnacion tied and passed his career high in RBIs on Saturday, then kept right on going on Sunday. Encarnacion went 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, a home run and two more RBIs, giving him 79.
He began Sunday ranked in the AL's top 10 in several statistical categories, including home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Encarnacion has been particularly dangerous at Rogers Centre, where he is is hitting better than .300 and slugging better than .600. In his last 22 home contests, his average stands at .352, with 18 walks, five home runs and 14 RBIs.
Outfielder Rajai Davis is coming off his first five-RBI game since July 10, 2010. Before Sunday, Davis had one RBI in August and five total since July 4.
The White Sox and Blue Jays split six games in Chicago earlier this season.
Villanueva has nearly doubled his strikeout-to-walk ratio as a starter, posting a 3.2-to-1 mark, compared with 1.7-to-1 as a reliever.