Two teams from the American League Central division get set to square off for the series opener of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field
Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox
Detroit aims for its 10th straight victory over the Chicago White Sox Friday night, as it begins a six-game road trip. The Tigers have won their last four overall after completing a three-game sweep of Minnesota and has captured victories in 17 of its last 26 games dating back to May 3. Much of the team’s recent success can be attributed to its pitching staff, especially the bullpen, as relievers have compiled a 2.59 ERA over the last nine games. Offensively, shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been exceptional since April 22, hitting .348 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs. Detroit has won its last six road games versus left-handed starters.
Tigers starter Andy Oliver is set to make his second consecutive start of the 2011 season and is coming off a quality appearance at home against Boston. He surrendered three runs and five hits over six strong innings, but also gave up two home runs. “I thought he did a heck of a job,” said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. “I thought he got better as the game went on. A little shaky early with the command, but he did a great job.” Leyland opted to give ace Justin Verlander an extra day of rest this week, leaving Oliver with the start. The left-hander was a winless 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts with the club last year.
Chicago is fresh off a sweep of its own by scoring 24 runs in a three-game set against Boston. “It’s nice to get three wins before the off day, but we’re still behind the eight ball,” said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko. “We don’t have any room, probably, for anymore lapses.” The club enters the first weekend of June eight games back in the American League Central race. Revenge will certainly be on the entire clubhouse’s mind in this matchup, as Chicago was swept in a three-game series at Comerica Park from April 22-24, getting outscored 21-3 in the process.
White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle has garnered an even 4-4 record and 3.91 ERA in 11 starts this season and is 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his last five overall. The left-hander is a brilliant 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA in four outings at U.S. Cellular Field, as the 1.88 mark ranks third among American League pitchers. Buehrle has enjoyed similar success against the Tigers at home, tallying an 8-3 mark and 2.93 ERA in 13 starts. He suffered a loss on April 22 at Detroit, giving up six runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. The veteran defeated the Tigers at home on August 24, 2010, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 frames.
Bettors will likely back the White Sox due to Buehrle’s 15-1 record with six days rest, while the Tigers are 1-4 in their last five road games