Though the Chicago White Sox have struggled on the road of late, and certainly at Comerica Park, they might be catching the Detroit Tigers at the right time.
The AL Central-leading White Sox look to avoid a fifth straight loss to the second-place Tigers by handing them a fourth consecutive defeat Friday night.
If Detroit (69-61) is to reduce or potentially erase Chicago's three-game division lead this weekend, it must improve after being swept in a three-game set at Kansas City. Though the Tigers have won five of six at home and averaged 6.6 runs while winning nine of 10 against the White Sox at Comerica Park, they were held to one run in their last two losses to the Royals."We're a much better team than what we showed here," said Rick Porcello , who took the loss in Thursday's 2-1 defeat. "Chicago comes to town. It's a big series. Everybody should be excited. It's a chance to pick up some ground."
The White Sox (72-58) plan to add to Detroit's struggles if they can bounce back themselves after losing three of four at Baltimore."You've got to go in there and put this series behind us and hopefully go into Detroit and play well," Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski said after Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Orioles. "We have to worry about Detroit."
The Tigers are not the White Sox's only concern.
Chicago has batted .216 and scored 22 runs while losing six of seven on the road. It's been held to 15 runs while dropping four straight and five of six at Comerica Park in 2012.
All-Star Adam Dunn leads the majors with 38 home runs but is 5 for 33 (.152) with two homers in his last nine games. He's batting .182 (4 for 22) with two home runs at Detroit this season.
Teammate Kevin Youkilis is 1 for 21 with 10 strikeouts at Comerica Park in 2012. His only hit left the park.
Doug Fister (7-8, 3.67 ERA) is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts against the White Sox, but faces them for the first time as a Tiger. The right-hander is apparently ready to go after he suffered a strained groin in his last start Aug. 19 versus Baltimore, when he allowed seven runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 7-5 loss.
Chicago counters with Jake Peavy (9-9, 3.09), who is 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in four 2012 starts against the Tigers, including 0-1 with a 7.30 ERA in his last two. The right-hander gave up four runs in seven innings of a 4-2 loss at Detroit on July 20.
"The only way you beat a guy like (Peavy) is to out-compete him," manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "You'd better compete. I'm talking about every at-bat, you've got to compete, because that one hit you get might be the one that makes the difference in a game."
Opponents have managed to do that for the most part of late against Peavy, who is 0-2 with a 3.33 ERA in his last four outings since winning at Minnesota on Aug. 1. However, he gave up two runs in seven innings of a 9-8 win over Seattle on Friday.
Prince Fielder is batting .333 (9 for 27) with four doubles versus Peavy, and .429 (18 for 42) against the White Sox this year. Teammate Miguel Cabrera is 12 for 26 (.462) with three home runs and five RBIs in his last six games versus Chicago.
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 27, 2012||Gavin Floyd||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|August 26, 2012||Gavin Floyd||Day-to-Day||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 25, 2012||Dayan Viciedo||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder soreness|
|August 19, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 18, 2012||Alejandro De Aza||15-Day DL||Bruised left ribcage|
|August 16, 2012||Orlando Hudson||15-Day DL||Left foot contusion|
|August 23, 2012||Doug Fister||Day-to-Day||Tightness in right groin|
|August 23, 2012||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right ankle soreness|
|August 01, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 02, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left hamstring soreness|
DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers have been waiting for someone to step up to the plate to drive in three or four runs with one crack of the bat.
Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking, three-run double in the seventh inning and Detroit beat Chicago 7-4 Friday night to pull within two games of the AL Central-leading White Sox.
"That's one of those we've been looking for all year," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We haven't cleared the bases many times like that with a big hit."
Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta homered as Detroit took the opener of the three-game series that has Leyland, who usually downplays big matchups, acknowledging the stakes are high.
"We still have a ways to go, but obviously this is an important series without question," Leyland said. "Is it the end of the world one way or the other? No."
White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis isn't sweating his team's place in the standings.
"We've still got a two-game lead, they've still got to catch us," Youkilis said. "The key right now is that we don't want to start pressing. There's 30 games left in the season, and we need to take these games like they are the first week of April.
"If it is the last weekend of the season, you might start pressing but not now. There's a month left and we're in first place."
Octavio Dotel (5-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief. Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the eighth inning and Jose Valverde closed for his 27th save in 31 chances.
Jake Peavy (9-10) gave up six runs and nine hits over six-plus innings.
"I didn't have much at all, so it was a battle from the start to just keep us in the game," Peavy said. "I got through the sixth, but it wasn't like I had great stuff in that inning, either."
Cabrera hit his 33rd homer, a two-run shot in the first inning. He went 3 for 4 on a sore right ankle that didn't affect him at the plate, but led to him making two errors at third base.
"He's playing in some pain, but he's playing," Leyland said. "The trainers are pretty confident he can get through it."
Peralta's solo home run gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead in the fourth. Chicago tied it in the sixth without a hit when Dewayne Wise walked, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly.
Pierzynski hit his 24th homer, a solo shot in the second that snapped his 0-for-17 hitless skid.
Andy Dirks drew a leadoff walk off Peavy in the pivotal seventh inning, Cabrera singled and Prince Fielder was hit on the right shoulder by reliever Matt Thornton to load the bases. With a fired-up crowd buzzing, Young hit a double into the left-center gap to clear the bases.
"The big difference was that Young got the big hit that we didn't get," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We had a lot of chances, but nothing was falling in."
Tigers starter Doug Fister gave up three runs - two earned - on four hits and four walks over five innings. Fister had his previous start skipped because of a sore right groin.
"I wasn't real sharp," he said.
Drew Smyly gave up one run on two walks while getting one out in the sixth, pitching in relief for the first time after the rookie made 16 starts this season.
Detroit has won 23 of its last 29 games at home.
The White Sox have lost seven of their last nine road games and if they get swept in Detroit, they'll fall into a first-place tie with the Tigers.
"This is not going to make or break the season," Ventura said. "But we're happy to be playing in games like this."
NOTES: The Tigers traded OF Jeff Baker to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named no later than Sept. 30 to open up a spot for minor leaguer Avisail Garcia, who made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in right field in the eighth. ... Peavy gave up four walks - one intentional - and struck out four as his winless streak stretched to five games.