After a rough return from the All-Star break, the Chicago White Sox’s starting rotation is performing like the group that led the team to a World Series championship.
On Sunday, Freddy Garcia looks to continue the club’s run of resurgent starting pitching as the White Sox (69-46) try to keep making up ground in the AL Central when they face the Detroit Tigers (76-40).
A 12-15 record since the break briefly dropped the White Sox into third place in the division this week, a stretch due in part to the struggles of starters Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez and Freddy Garcia.
Buehrle, Contreras and Garcia played big roles in the White Sox’s march to the World Series title last year, but they contributed to a 6-12 post-break record and 5.49 ERA by the rotation through Monday.
Chicago, though, took two of three from the New York Yankees to start the week, and Contreras fired a three-hit shutout to beat the Tigers in Friday’s series opener. Buehrle, who had been 0-6 in his previous seven starts, then pitched well for the second consecutive outing Saturday with six innings of three-run ball in Chicago’s 4-3 victory.
Buehrle struck out a season-high seven as the White Sox cut the Tigers’ lead to 6 1/2 games.
“We’re playing good ball again, like we did in the first half,” said closer Bobby Jenks, who pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 34 opportunities. “It doesn’t look like anything’s going to change. We’re going to be able to continue that.”
The White Sox remained two games up on Boston and Minnesota for the wild-card lead.
Saturday’s loss was a season high-tying fourth in a row for Detroit, which played sloppily. The Tigers, who have the best record in the majors, made three errors and allowed four unearned runs.
“I’m certainly not going to let a four-game losing streak stand in the way or jump ship—I’m going to be there for them,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Sean Casey hit a two-run homer and Curtis Granderson added an RBI double in the fifth for Detroit, but left-hander Kenny Rogers couldn’t work around a throwing error by Brandon Inge in the fifth inning, when Chicago scored three times to tie the game.
“Everybody is going to come after us, and we know we have to raise our level of intensity to match any other team,” Rogers said.
The Tigers will look to do that against Garcia (10-7, 4.83 ERA), who has dropped his last three decisions and hasn’t won since beating Pittsburgh on June 28.
The right-hander did pitch well in his last outing, throwing seven innings and giving up four runs—three earned—on Tuesday night in Chicago’s 6-5 win over New York.
Garcia looks to continue his career success against Detroit as he tries to pitch the White Sox to the series sweep. The right-hander is 12-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 21 starts against the Tigers. That win total is his second-highest against any team, behind his 13 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Garcia will be making his third start of the season against Detroit. He’s 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in the first two games.
Chicago is looking to move within 5 1/2 games of the AL Central lead for the first time since July 20.
The Tigers will send rookie Zach Miner (7-2, 4.05) to the mound Sunday as they try to keep that from happening. The right-hander, who will be making his first start against Chicago, won for the first time since July 8 in his last outing, pitching 6 1-3 innings and giving up seven hits and three runs in a 9-3 victory over Minnesota on Monday.
The White Sox and Tigers meet seven more times after Sunday, starting with a four-game series that begins Aug. 21 at Comerica Park. Chicago has won eight of 11 meetings with Detroit this year.