Esteban Loaiza looks to earn a share of the major league lead in wins and help the Chicago White Sox maintain their lead in the AL Central as they conclude their three-game series with the hapless Detroit Tigers.
Loaiza, whose previous career high for wins was 11, said beating Clemens, a future Hall of Famer, was the highlight of his season.
“Oh, yeah,” said the veteran right-hander, who earned a spot with the White Sox in spring training as a non-roster invitee. “Today was a great outing for myself, a great game for us. I just want to put zeroes up there and get the victory. That’s what I want to continue to do.”
Loaiza is tied with Toronto’s Roy Halladay and New York’s Andy Pettitte for the American League lead in wins and one shy of Atlanta’s Russ Ortiz, who did not receive a decision in his last outing on Friday.
“That was an outstanding performance,” White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said of Loaiza’s effort against the Yankees. “That’s the best stuff in a while I’ve seen from Este. He’s been unflappable in all of those big-time situations.”
Loaiza, whose 2.51 ERA is among the leaders in the AL, has gone 6-1 since he started the All-Star game at U.S. Cellular Field in July.
The victory, coupled with the rainout of Kansas City’s game against Anaheim on Saturday, put the White Sox a half-game ahead of the Royals in the AL Central. The Royals play a doubleheader on Sunday.
Detroit, on the other hand, joined the 1962 New York Mets as the only teams in the modern era to lose 100 games before September.
“This really doesn’t hurt any more than the others,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “I know it is a round number, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. We competed and we played pretty well, so it isn’t as painful as a lot of them.”
STANDINGS: White Sox - 1st place, AL Central. Tigers - 5th place, 37 GB, AL Central.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Loaiza (17-6, 2.51 ERA). In 16 career appearances, including 14 starts, against Detroit, Loaiza is 9-4 with a 2.49 ERA.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Nate Cornejo (6-13, 4.77 ERA). Cornejo gave up four earned runs and nine hits over 7 1-3 innings in a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday for his first victory in six decisions. In four career starts against Chicago, he is 3-4 with a 4.96 ERA.
SEASON SERIES: White Sox, 10-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: White Sox - DH Thomas has 10 homers in his last 12 games. … 1B-DH Paul Konerko’s two-hit performance Saturday was his fifth-straight multihit game. … The White Sox sent LHP Neal Cotts to Double-A Birmingham after Saturday’s game, but did not immediately replace him on the roster. Tigers - DH Young extended his hitting streak to a season-high 16 games Saturday. … The Tigers need to win 19 of their final 28 games to avoid the first 110-loss season in franchise history. … RHP Cornejo is 2-6 with a 4.74 ERA in 11 home starts this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: White Sox - 29-41 on the road; Tigers - 16-49 at home.