After Clay Buchholz spent a month of the disabled list with a left knee injury, the Red Sox weren't sure what to expect out of the right-hander once he returned to the rotation.
However, in his first two starts since coming off the DL, Buchholz has shown flashes of dominance, combining to allow five runs on 12 hits in 13 2/3 innings.
That's a welcome sign for the Red Sox, who know that to make a run in American League East, they need Buchholz to be strong and consistent.
The right-hander will look to keep that momentum going when he takes the hill for Monday night's series opener against the White Sox at Fenway Park.
"This is the second straight start since being activated he's pitched very well," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Buchholz's last outing. "I thought he had good stuff, probably one of the better fastballs he's had for the entire season. I thought he threw a number of really good curveballs."
Meanwhile, the White Sox will send struggling right-hander Scott Carroll to the hill. He's gone just 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts.
Rotating between the bullpen and rotation, Carroll has allowed 10 earned runs on 17 hits over 11 innings in his last two starts.
"You're seeing the lineup more times, you're throwing a lot more pitches and going deeper into games, so I need to be more efficient and make better pitches," Carroll said after his last start. "I'm trying to get to the point to where I'm consistent and translate what I had into the bullpen over."
Pitching on the road has been especially bothersome for Carroll, both as a starter and as a long reliever. He's gone 0-3 with a 6.30 ERA in four outings. Monday will mark his first career appearance against the Red Sox.
"He's been getting hit a little bit," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Carroll. "He's getting ground balls and then he starts picking and he gets in a tight spot and starts sinking it and getting ground balls. Just stay with that, don't try to be fine and let the defense work for you."
White Sox: Jones and Lindstrom progressing
• While late-inning relievers Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom are making progress, Ventura said on Sunday that both are far from facing live competition.
"Everybody is happy with their improvement and where they're going," Ventura said. "Does it mean they're going to play this year? I don't know. We'll see once they start physically going out and playing and seeing how that happens. We know the prognosis is good as far as they continue to improve."
Jones underwent a microdisectomy procedure for his ailing back May 5 and could be back as soon as late July. Lindstrom isn't expected back in the bullpen until late August after having left ankle surgery May 21.
Red Sox: Farrell undecided on Wednesday starter
• Farrell said before Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Orioles that he isn't any closer to deciding who will start Wednesday's game against the White Sox.
"Couple of candidates certainly, but nothing yet to announce," Farrell said. "We've got to get through these next couple days to determine who that's going to be."
The only thing Farrell would say is that the starter wouldn't come out of the bullpen, meaning left-hander Felix Doubront won't be an option.
Other possible candidates include Allen Webster, Steven Wright and Rubby De La Rosa.
• Chicago is 5-14 in its last 19 games vs. Boston (1-6 on road).
• Paul Konerko is one home run shy of tying Jason Giambi (440) for 41st place on the all-time list.
• With a double Sunday, David Ortiz passed Harry Hooper for sole possession of seventh place on the Red Sox's all-time list with 1,708 hits.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.