The Chicago White Sox powered their way to a win in the opener of their season-ending three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. They could struggle for a repeat performance when they meet one of the AL’s top pitchers on Saturday.
Justin Verlander looks to cap the best season of his young career with his sixth win in seven starts as the Tigers and White Sox continue their series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Verlander (18-6, 3.68 ERA) has posted a 2.68 ERA in winning five of six starts since Aug. 27. In those wins, the right-hander has allowed only five runs in 34 2-3 innings. Two of those runs came Sunday, when he gave up five hits in six innings as Detroit (87-73) beat Kansas City 7-2.
“He learns something every time he’s out there,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s going to be special.”
Verlander has more wins in a single season than any Tiger since Bill Gullickson went 20-9 in 1991, and his no-hitter against Milwaukee on June 12 was the first by a Detroit pitcher since Jack Morris’ in 1984. Verlander’s 35 victories in his first two full seasons are the most by a Tiger since Frank Lary also had 35 from 1955-56.
Verlander has one more chance to add to his win total, but he’s only beaten the White Sox once in seven career starts. He’s 1-4 with a 6.41 ERA in those games, and doesn’t have a decision despite a 3.86 ERA in two starts against them this season.
He’ll try to quiet a White Sox lineup that scored four runs on homers in a 5-2 victory in the series opener Friday. Paul Konerko hit a three-run shot in the third inning and Jim Thome connected on his 506th career homer in the seventh as Chicago (71-89) won its third straight game.
It was the sixth loss in 10 games for the defending AL champion Tigers, who were eliminated from postseason contention Wednesday.
Konerko is just 3-for-20 with seven strikeouts and no home runs in his career against Verlander, but Thome is 6-for-15 with four home runs lifetime against him.
The Tigers will be without their best offensive threat Saturday because Leyland plans to rest AL batting leader Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez, batting .360 with 28 home runs and 137 RBIs, is expected to return for the season finale on Sunday. He’s currently 10 points ahead of Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in the batting race.
“I’m not going to call it a victory yet. We have to wait and see what Ichiro does,” Ordonez told the Tigers’ official Web site. “He could go 10-for-10. But it’s tough to go 10-for-10.”
Detroit will also be missing Gary Sheffield, who’s been shut down because of a shoulder injury.
Gavin Floyd (1-5, 5.71) will start for the White Sox against the only team he’s beaten this season. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.06 ERA in 10 games— six starts—since beating Detroit on Aug. 5. He lost his third straight start after giving up four runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-1 defeat against Minnesota on Sunday.
Floyd is 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers—all this season.