(Sports Network) - For the second time in less than two weeks, Justin
Verlander and Chris Sale will oppose each other on the mound.
Verlander won the previous duel and another victory Thursday will put the
Detroit Tigers into a first-place tie with the Chicago White Sox atop the
American League Central. The two division foes will close out a four-game
series at U.S. Cellular Field.
The AL's reigning Cy Young Award winner and league MVP, Verlander struck out
11 and gave up just one run in eight innings of a 4-2 win over Sale and the
White Sox on Sept. 2. Sale was reached for all four runs in six innings, while
Verlander won his second start of the season against Chicago. Verlander has
made 27 career starts in this series, going 14-10 with a 3.93 earned run
Verlander, though, didn't fare so well his last time out in a 6-1 loss on
Saturday at Angel Stadium and permitted six runs and nine hits in six innings.
The loss dropped him to 13-8 in 29 outings this season and raised his ERA to
2.91. In 16 road assignments, Verlander is 6-6 with a 4.02 ERA.
Max Scherzer took care of his business on the mound in last night's 8-6 win
and limited the hosts to a run and four hits in six innings. He is 16-6 on the
season and struck out seven batters without issuing a walk. Brayan Villarreal,
Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde struggled over the last three innings,
allowing a combined five runs, before Valverde posted his 30th save.
Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, while Miguel
Cabrera and Austin Jackson finished with three hits apiece for the Tigers,
whose deficit in the AL Central is now one and have prevailed in back-to-back
games since losing four straight and six of seven.
"If we focus on playing good baseball, it should work out," Fielder said.
Fielder has eight doubles, 10 home runs and 26 RBI in his last 38 games dating
back to Aug. 1. Detroit will continue its 10-game road swing with three games
at Cleveland this weekend.
Chicago will close the lid on a 10-game homestand (4-5) this evening and looks
to earn a split of this set with Detroit.
Gavin Floyd returned to action following a stint on the disabled list and
allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings to absorb the loss. Floyd struck out seven
and allowed one walk.
Kevin Youkilis homered twice and finished with four RBI for Chicago, which
hasn't won consecutive games since a six-game winning streak from Aug. 20-26
and is only 5-11 in the past 16 contests.
"We're not quitting at any point," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
"That's the one great thing about the team, they're not going to get down
where they're giving up."
The White Sox will hit the road after Thursday's game and will visit the
Twins, Royals and Angels on a nine-game trek.
Meanwhile, Sale had lost two straight and three of four starts until throwing
six innings of one-run ball in a 5-4 win over Kansas City on Saturday. The
southpaw pushed his record to 16-6 in 26 games, 25 of which have been starts,
to go along with a 2.88 earned run average.
Sale lost at Detroit on that aforementioned Sept. 2 meeting, as he surrendered
four runs in six innings. He has lost all three of his starts against Detroit
this season and is 1-3 with a 4.41 ERA in 13 meetings (3 starts) with the
Tigers. Sale has a home winning streak going for him and is 8-0 with a 1.20
ERA over his last nine starts at U.S. Cellular Field. He is 9-2 in 12 overall
appearances in the south side of the city.
The Tigers are 12-5 against the Pale Hose this season.
Chicago ended a seven-game slide to Detroit with Monday's 6-1 win.
The Sports Network