Tigers-White Sox Preview
If not the best hitter in all of baseball, Miguel Cabrera has to at least be considered the most dangerous slugger in the AL Central.
Cuban sensation Jose Abreu, though, isn't far behind.
Abreu and the Chicago White Sox try to sweep a rain-shortened three-game home set against Cabrera and the slumping Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
Chicago (33-33) finds itself 2 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit (33-28) after winning 8-2 on Wednesday. Abreu went 3 for 4 with his 19th homer as the White Sox improved to 6-2 over their last eight at home.
Abreu, who also homered in Monday's 6-5 victory before Tuesday's game was postponed, now leads the AL with a .627 slugging percentage. He is batting .323 with four home runs and eight RBIs in eight games since coming off the disabled list with an ankle issue.
Cabrera is 8 for 16 with five extra-base hits - one homer - during a four-game stretch. However, the Tigers have lost three straight and 16 of 22 since May 19, tied for the worst mark in the AL during that time.
Detroit is 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position over the last two games.
"It's kind of everything that can go wrong is going wrong, not just for myself, but for this team," Wednesday's losing pitcher Justin Verlander said after allowing seven runs. "But we'll battle through it."
Detroit will try to get on track behind Max Scherzer (7-2, 3.38 ERA), who owns a 6.84 ERA in his last four starts. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner allowed four runs and 11 hits over 6 2-3 innings but earned the victory in Saturday's 8-6 win over Boston.
Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 31 hitters while striking out nine and walking one.
"When you're filling it up and attacking the zone, you're going to have success," he told MLB's official website. "Four runs, that happens, but you turn the page and move on. If I keep doing this, good things are going to happen."
The right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA during a nine-start stretch against the White Sox, which includes a 1.50 ERA in two wins this season. He's baffled Alexei Ramirez over the years, holding him to five hits in 47 at-bats. Adam Dunn is 9 for 40 with three homers and 19 strikeouts in their matchups, and Abreu is 1 for 6.
Chris Sale (5-0, 2.06) carried a shutout into the eighth inning Saturday before allowing a season-high five runs in a 6-5 road defeat to the Los Angeles Angels. The left-hander's night came to an end after serving up a grand slam to Mike Trout.
"He just goes and pitches," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Sale. "He's a high intensity guy, a lot of emotion. He separates it pretty good."
Sale would appear to have a good chance to bounce back at home, where he's gone 4-0 with a major league-best 0.59 WHIP and 46 strikeouts over six starts spanning 37 1-3 innings. The two-time All-Star has compiled a 0.72 ERA and 0.32 WHIP in his last four on the South Side while allowing four hits in 25 innings.
Sale went 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his last three 2013 outings against the Tigers. Austin Jackson is 2 for 30 with 12 strikeouts in their matchups, but Victor Martinez is 12 for 22.