A perfect homestand has left the Chicago White Sox with the biggest cushion of any division leader in the majors.
The White Sox look to carry their success onto the road Tuesday night as they try for an eighth consecutive victory in the opener of a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers.
Chicago (37-26) overcame a three-run deficit to defeat Minnesota 7-5 on Monday, sweep that four-game series and concluding a 7-0 homestand. The White Sox are 6 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Twins in the AL Central, and one win away from tying their longest winning streak of the season, set May 14-22.
“I’ll say that we’re the best team this week,” starting pitcher John Danks said after Chicago outscored Minnesota 40-15 in the series. “We’ve been playing well. If we play the way we’re capable of, we have a good shot in this division.”
The White Sox are 21-8 against teams from the Central, including a 5-1 mark versus Detroit (26-37). Chicago swept a three-game series at Comerica Park from April 4-6.
After manager Ozzie Guillen ripped his club for scoring four total runs while losing three straight games at Tampa Bay, the White Sox scored 61 runs while batting .347 with 19 home runs during their homestand.
“I don’t think we had a choice, Ozzie said so,” said center fielder Nick Swisher, who homered twice Monday. “There for a while, things weren’t going our way.”
Swisher is hitting .387 (12-for-31) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his last eight contests to raise his season average from .201 to .228.
Third baseman Joe Crede was 0-for-3 on Monday after he went 11-for-18 with five homers and 12 RBIs in his previous five games to help earn co-AL player of the week honors. He is 7-for-21 with a homer and eight RBIs against Detroit this season.
Jose Contreras (6-3, 2.76 ERA) will try for his fifth consecutive winning decision for the White Sox on Tuesday. He continued to bounce back from a disappointing 10-17 mark in 2007, by allowing a run and four hits in seven innings of a 6-2 victory over Kansas City on Thursday.
“Last year is a distant memory,” said Contreras, 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last six starts.
The right-hander is 8-7 with a 4.49 ERA in 21 starts versus Detroit, but 0-1 with a 6.17 ERA in two outings against the Tigers in 2008.
Detroit counters with Nate Robertson (3-6, 6.03), who looks to bounce back after yielding five runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 10-2 loss at Oakland on Wednesday.
The left-hander, who is 5-6 with a 5.07 ERA in 17 career starts against Chicago, allowed five runs in five innings of an 8-5 loss at home to the White Sox on April 4.
Dontrelle Willis allowed eight runs in 1 1-3 innings as Detroit fell 8-2 to Cleveland on Monday to split a four-game set with the Indians.
Placido Polanco had four hits for the Tigers, who have lost five of seven overall and sit 11 games back of Chicago in the division.
Polanco, who is 6-for-9 with three RBIs in his last two games, is batting .344 (11-for-32) lifetime against Contreras.