After snapping a four-game losing streak, the Chicago White Sox head to Detroit on Monday to begin a three-game series with a team that reminds the world champions of themselves at this time last season.
The Tigers started 5-0 before losing 5-3 to Texas on Sunday, but have hit 17 home runs and are tied with Cleveland atop the Central Division standings.
Detroit has posted 12 consecutive losing seasons and hasn’t made the playoffs since 1987.
“The worst thing you can do is call them a fluke,” Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said. “That’s what people were calling us a year ago.
“They have the talent to win. They will be there. There are no pushovers in this division. It’s not going to be an easy road.”
Freddy Garcia will try again for his 100th win when he takes the mound for Chicago, which finally got a win from a starter when Mark Buehrle allowed six hits over eight innings in a 3-1 victory over Kansas City on Sunday.
“He’s my ace,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said of Buehrle. “He’s been doing that for a long time. When things are going tough, he came up big. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. Hopefully, the rest of my starters will follow him. Buehrle stepped up big today.”
Garcia was roughed up in his first outing of the season, giving up seven runs and nine hits in only four innings of an 8-2 loss to Cleveland last week.
That started a four-game slide for the White Sox (2-4), who lost two of three to Cleveland before averting a three-game sweep by the Royals with Sunday’s victory.
Right fielder Jermaine Dye returned to the lineup after missing two games with a strained left calf and went 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a run.
Garcia was 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA against the Tigers last season, and is 11-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 19 career starts against them. Chris Shelton, who leads the majors with five home runs, has been the most successful Detroit hitter against Garcia, with a .385 average and one homer in 10 at-bats.
Shelton and the Tigers had quiet days Sunday. Shelton came in hitting .700, but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and Detroit was held without a home run for the first time this season.
“It’s just one loss,” said Tigers right fielder Craig Monroe, who had a pair of doubles and scored twice. “We’re 5-1. We feel great about going home.”
Detroit—which played its first six games on the road—is looking for its best start since 1985, when it began 6-1 a year after winning the World Series.
The Tigers have yet to commit an error in 2006, their best such stretch to start a season since 1994.
Jeremy Bonderman looks for his second win of the season after allowing one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 14-3 victory against Kansas City last week.
Chicago went 14-5 against Detroit last season, including 7-2 at Comerica Park.