Blue Jays get out of Chicago before storms arrive
Rogers to start Thursday's opener against Rangers in Texas
CHICAGO -- With a sizable summer storm bearing down on the Midwest, Wednesday's rubber match between the Blue Jays and White Sox on the South Side of Chicago was postponed nearly six hours before first pitch.
The Blue Jays made a quick getaway from U.S. Cellular Field in an attempt to fly out of the city before the storm began. The club arrived at the ballpark just before 2 p.m. CT and then left on the bus within a half hour.
A makeup date and time have yet to be announced, but the two teams have a few mutual off-days in the coming months that would serve as possibilities.
"After we got to the ballpark, it's supposed to be brutal weather coming," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "There's a chance we couldn't have got out of here. There's supposed to be hail and possible tornadoes in the area I think."
The Blue Jays traveled to Arlington, Texas, with a four-game series against the Rangers set to begin on Thursday night. The club opted not to skip right-hander Esmil Rogers and instead every starter will be pushed back a day.
Rogers will take the mound for the series opener and will be followed in the rotation by left-hander Mark Buehrle, right-hander Josh Johnson and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for the four-game series.
The decision not to skip Rogers and temporarily put him back into the bullpen came as somewhat of a surprise, but Gibbons wants to keep the Dominican native on a normal routine.
"He's part of our five-man rotation now, so we'll just keep everyone in line," Gibbons said.
Rogers began the season in the bullpen, but he recently made the transition into the rotation because of injuries to right-hander Brandon Morrow, left-hander J.A. Happ and a previous injury to Johnson.
The 27-year-old has made two starts this season but has yet to record more than four innings because of a limited pitch count. In his two outings, he has allowed just one run on six hits while striking out 10 over 7 1/3 innings.
Rogers had been mentally preparing to face the White Sox, but he doesn't think the late change will have an impact on his performance.
"I got already in my mind how I'm going to pitch these guys, how I'm pitching already," Rogers said of facing the Rangers. "This team is an aggressive team, I have to have all my pitches ready."
Toronto and Chicago split the first two contests of the three-game set. Aside from the eventual makeup, the teams aren't scheduled to meet again this season.
The Blue Jays likely caught a break because, at least for the time being, they can now avoid White Sox ace Chris Sale, who was scheduled to pitch in the series finale and is 5-4 this season with a 2.68 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 11 starts.
Wednesday's postponement marks the fourth this season at U.S. Cellular Field, the most since the White Sox had five in 2008. Chicago and Toronto have mutual off-days on Aug. 8, Aug. 19, Aug. 29, Sept. 23.
The Aug. 8 date seems somewhat unlikely because the Blue Jays would be forced to play 31 consecutive games without an off-day. That game also would seem less than ideal because the club would be returning from a lengthy West Coast road trip, with the final series taking place in Seattle.
The Aug. 19 date also doesn't seem very probable because it comes just one day before the Blue Jays are scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Yankees in New York. The Aug. 29 and Sept. 23 dates would seem more convenient for both sides, but no official announcement has been made.