The Detroit Tigers have dominated the Chicago White Sox this year, but still find themselves trailing in the AL Central. The teams begin a critical four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night as the White Sox try to snap a seven-game skid versus the Tigers and create some breathing room atop the division. Detroit has swept consecutive three-game home series against Chicago in the last two months, each time taking at least a share of the Central lead. However, both times the Tigers have been unable to build any sort of momentum.
Chicago (75-64), which has been outscored 43-22 during its losing streak against Detroit (73-66), opens this week with a two-game lead in the division. However, neither team is playing very good right now. The Tigers were swept in three straight by the Los Angeles Angels to open a 10-game road trip while the White Sox dropped two of three to Kansas City at home. Chicago's biggest issue is its inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Including the most recent series in Detroit, the White Sox are batting .198 (17 for 86) with runners on second or third over the last nine games. They were 2 for 10 Sunday.
They could, however, have some reinforcements in their starting lineup for the series opener. Kevin Youkilis is expected to be reinstated from the paternity list following a three-game absence while Alexei Ramirez figures to be back in a starting role after entering as a pinch runner in the seventh after arriving late for Sunday's game. Rick Porcello (9-11, 4.58 ERA) will try to get the Tigers off to a good start in the final series between these teams. Although he's lost a career-worst five straight starts, the right-hander has a 3.97 ERA in the last four outings but has received no runs of support during that span. He gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday.
That might not leave much room for error for Jose Quintana (5-4, 3.68), who has been tagged for 12 runs over five innings in his last two starts - both losses. Quintana did get off to a solid start but has since been victimized by untimely hits especially early in the game that has put the once balanced offense in a legitmate hole while in the midst of a pennant race in the AL Central. His last outing was his worst of the season, as the left-hander lasted 1 1-3 innings and allowed seven runs and five hits in an 18-9 loss to Minnesota.
Another rare opportunity for some dog money, as Detroit, whose offensive numbers especially away from Comerica gets their best opportunity to move themselves back atop the AL Central. Miguel Cabrera is having another stellar MVP type season (.326 35 116) and Prince Fielder (.312 25 95) provides protection in the clean up spot while coming on strong as of late. Delmon Young (.275 17 62) simply adds to the production cornerstone in this potentially dangerous lineup as does Austin Jackson (.303 13 53) who is third on the team in hitting. It has been a subpar season for Brennan Boesch (.243 12 52) who no longer is an everyday outfielder but does have an opportunity to see some more action if the postseason is in Detroit's future and can contribute. Meanwhile, the White Sox are hitting just .257 but are amongst the leaders with 181 HR collectively. Adam Dunn (.208 38 88) still might not be hitting his weight but has launched some moonshots that have propelled the White Sox to some key victories. Alex Rios (.292 22 82) has also contributed in timely situations with some game winning hits as as AJ Piersynski (.286 25 72). Paul Konerko (.311 22 66) has battled injuries but has made the most of a reduced season and Kevin Youkilis (.238 16 53) can put a tumultuous relationship with Boston management behind. Best of luck however you play!