The Detroit Tigers are vying for a spot in the playoffs. Their recent play, however, hasn’t been indicative of that.
The struggling Tigers will have Kenny Rogers on the mound for the first time in more than a month Wednesday night when they continue a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park.
After losing four of six games on the road to non-contending teams Kansas City and Oakland, the Tigers had another good opportunity to make up ground in the wild-card race with three home games against the White Sox.
Detroit, though, managed only one run in seven innings against Jon Garland and went scoreless against three relievers in a 3-1 loss in Tuesday’s series opener.
“We had our chances,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We had one hit here and one hit there, but couldn’t put anything together. We just didn’t get enough big hits.”
The loss dropped the Tigers (73-65) 3 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees and seven games back of first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.
Since being swept in a doubleheader by the White Sox on July 24, Detroit is an AL-worst 14-27. The Tigers’ starting pitching - considered the strength of the team - is 8-20 with a 6.54 ERA in that span.
Also contributing to the recent skid is the absence of slugger Gary Sheffield, who has been sidelined since Aug. 21 with a troublesome right shoulder. Sheffield said he should be ready to play when he is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday.
Rogers (3-2, 5.23 ERA) will come off the DL to make his first appearance since July 25.
The 42-year-old left-hander began this season on the disabled list with a blood clot in his left shoulder and didn’t make his first start until June 22. Rogers pitched effectively in his first three starts before going 0-2 with a 9.98 in his last three. He was placed back on the DL on July 30 with inflammation in his left elbow.
Rogers threw a three-inning simulated game at Comerica Park on Friday.
“I think any time you get a guy like that back, it’s certainly good for morale,” Leyland said.
Rogers was tagged for seven runs and seven hits over four innings in Detroit’s 13-9 win over the White Sox on July 25. He is 13-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 29 starts against Chicago.
The Tigers have lost nine of 13 games this season against Chicago (59-79), including six of seven at home.
“We just play good against them,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Chicago likely will be without right fielder Jermaine Dye, who left Tuesday’s game with a strained left quadriceps, and was listed as day-to-day.
“We’ll see tomorrow,” Dye said. “It will probably be a couple of days.”
Gavin Floyd (1-2, 6.92) makes his sixth start of the season for Chicago. The 24-year-old right-hander turned in one of his better starts of 2007 in his team’s 4-3 loss at Texas on Aug. 28, yielding three runs and six hits in six innings before leaving without a decision.
Floyd is 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA in two starts this season against the Tigers. He was hit hard against them at home on July 24, but rebounded to pitch six scoreless innings at Detroit in a 3-1 victory on Aug. 5.