White Sox-Tigers Preview
The Detroit Tigers could have had more breathing room in the AL Central had they taken better advantage of their season series against the weaker teams in their division.
They'll look to improve upon a mediocre record versus the Chicago White Sox on Monday night in the opener of a three-game set at Comerica Park.
The Tigers (86-69) lost 5-2 Sunday in Kansas City, squandering a chance to sweep the second-place Royals. However, two wins in the three-game set pushed their lead in the AL Central to 1 1/2 games and finished 13-6 against their closest pursuers.
They've still won nine of 13 while averaging 5.2 runs, with J.D. Martinez and Torii Hunter both swinging hot bats. Martinez has batted .577 during a seven-game hitting streak, while Hunter is 13 for 32 while hitting safely in seven straight.
Hunter has also hit .462 during a separate seven-game streak against the White Sox.
Despite being in position to win its fourth straight division title, Detroit hasn't looked the part against the White Sox - the teams have split 16 games. The Tigers are 3-4 at home, with their relievers getting charged with two of those losses while posting a 9.31 ERA.
Detroit will conclude its season with four home games versus last-place Minnesota, a team it's 7-8 against.
"Hopefully we'll come home and it'll get loud," Hunter said. "It's going to be fun. It shouldn't be hard to get pumped up. If you don't have that adrenaline now you're not human. You should check your pulse."
Jose Abreu has been one of the biggest reasons Chicago has been competitive against Detroit. He has hit .433 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 16 games against the Tigers, and he also owns a .500 on-base percentage over his last nine overall.
However, the White Sox also had Adam Dunn - now with Oakland - for 12 games against Detroit, in which he had five home runs and 10 RBIs.
Chicago's 10-5 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday was just its fourth in 15 road games. Former Tiger Avisail Garcia was 3 for 5 with two home runs and has hit .340 with 11 RBIs over his last 11 matchups with his former club.
Rookies will get the starting nod for both teams, with Detroit's Kyle Lobstein (1-0, 3.58 ERA) making his first start since not recording a decision in a 5-4 win over Cleveland on Sept. 13, when he allowed four runs in five innings.
"He was fine," manager Brad Ausmus told MLB's official website. "He wasn't as much down in the zone as he had been in his previous starts."
Chris Bassitt (0-1, 5.29) had a difficult time in the White Sox's 7-5 win at Kansas City on Tuesday, needing 94 pitches to get through 3 2-3 innings while allowing three runs and four walks. He took an 8-4 loss to Detroit in his big-league debut Aug. 30, giving up five runs over 6 1-3 innings.