White Sox-Tigers Preview
DETROIT -- JaCoby Jones began the season as a Double-A player serving a lengthy suspension. He heads into the final month as the Detroit Tigers' choice to boost their inconsistent attack.
The 24-year-old Jones had his contract purchased from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday and was immediately inserted into the lineup at third base. He delivered in his first game, rapping out two hits and driving in two runs in an 8-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
He'll likely make his second start in a Wednesday afternoon matinee against White Sox ace Chris Sale.
"I always had it in the back of my mind I was good enough to come up this year," Jones said. "I didn't know, since I got suspended, I'd get the chance this year. When I got the call last night everything came true."
The Tigers acquired the versatile Jones from Pittsburgh during last season's trade deadline in exchange for veteran reliever Joakim Soria.
Jones was handed a 50-game suspension in November for a second violation of the Major League Baseball joint drug prevention and treatment program.
Once he was eligible to return, Jones quickly advanced through Double-A Erie. He hit .312 in 20 games and was promoted to the Mud Hens. He got off to a slow start there but perked up in August, hitting .269 with 14 runs scored in 28 games.
A natural shortstop, Jones mainly played centerfield in Triple A but also saw time at third base. The Tigers are hurting at both positions, with third baseman Nick Castellanos on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured hand and center fielder Cameron Maybin battling a thumb injury that kept him out of Tuesday's game.
"We'll see if he can inject a little bit of life in the offense," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Mac (Toledo manager Lloyd McClendon) said he's been swinging the bat a lot better lately."
The Tigers haven't needed a whole lot of offense with Justin Verlander on the mound. Verlander, who will make his 28th start of the season on Wednesday, has strung together nine consecutive quality starts. He ranks second in the American League with 189 strikeouts and is tied for fifth with 14 wins.
Sale has lost five of his last six decisions spanning eight starts, though he has allowed three or fewer runs in six of those outings. One of those losses came against Detroit, when he gave up a late pinch-hit home run to J.D. Martinez in a 2-1 defeat on Aug. 3.
Sale recorded a season-high 14 strikeouts in his last start against Seattle but the White Sox lost 3-1.
"He had a complete game in the last one," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Sometimes, the offense needs to pick up the pitching. Q's (Jose Quintana) been dealing with it for a few years, not getting a whole lot of support. Whether it's hard luck, if that's what you want to call it, I don't know. But they've been pitching well, I know that."
Verlander will be making his 38th career start against the White Sox but they've only faced him once this season. Verlander collected a win on June 5 while holding them to two runs in seven innings.
"We haven't faced him in awhile but numbers-wise and when you watch him on film, his velocity's back up there and his command is a little better than it's been," Ventura said. "A guy who still has that kind of stuff is always going to be a quality pitcher, an elite pitcher. You better get your runs early when you're facing him because he gets better as he goes along."