With their offense struggling, the Detroit Tigers have fallen out of first place in the AL Central for the first time in nearly a month.
The Tigers try and get back on track and avoid losing their fourth straight game when they continue a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
Detroit (61-47) is the second-highest scoring team in the majors with 619 runs, but has been limited to just nine during its skid.
The Tigers have dropped nine of 11 overall, and after losing to the White Sox 7-4 in Friday’s series opener, fell one-half game behind new division leader Cleveland. This is the first time Detroit has been out of the top spot since July 5.
“You have to be nasty to win,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Right now we are a nice team who are getting their butts beat.”
All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez was hitless in three at-bats Friday, and is just 9-for-51 (.176) with 17 strikeouts in his last 16 games.
Jeremy Bonderman (10-3, 4.33 ERA) also has run into some trouble lately, and he’ll look to bounce back from the worst start of his career for the Tigers.
Bonderman was tagged for a career-high 11 runs and nine hits in a season-low 2 1-3 innings of a 14-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. In his previous start on July 24, he gave up five runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 5-3 loss to the White Sox.
Before those starts, the right-hander had gone 10-1 with a 3.68 ERA in his previous 13 outings.
Bonderman looks to get back on track at Comerica Park, where he hasn’t pitched since before the All-Star break. He is 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA in nine home starts this season, with the Tigers winning six of his last seven games there.
Bonderman is 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA in six career home starts against the White Sox.
Chicago (50-59) has won two straight - both on the road - and seven of 11 overall. The White Sox have not won three straight road games on a single trip since June 25-28 when they swept a four-game series at Tampa Bay.
Jermaine Dye hit his 22nd homer Friday, giving him three in the last two games. Dye is batting .321 (27-for-84) with 10 homers, eight doubles, 18 RBIs and 24 runs in 22 games since the All-Star break. Against Bonderman, though, Dye is just 4-for-27 (.148) in his career.
Javier Vazquez (8-6, 3.63) looks to rebound from his first loss in nearly two months and give Chicago another solid outing.
Vazquez was charged with four runs - two earned - and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to Toronto on Sunday for his first loss since June 11.
“(Vazquez) is showing a lot of ground balls, more confidence and is attacking the strike zone,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told the team’s official Web site. “I said in spring training that if someone was going to have a good year, it was going to be Javy. He has been real consistent for us all year long.”
He had gone 5-0 with a 2.60 ERA in his previous seven starts, and took the win over Bonderman and the Tigers on July 24, allowing three runs, four hits while striking out eight in eight innings.
Vazquez is 2-4 with a 5.35 ERA in six career starts against Detroit.