Even without manager Ozzie Guillen, the Chicago White Sox continued their recent dominance over Detroit during the first two games of their current set with the Tigers.
With Guillen expected back in the dugout after serving a two-game suspension, the first-place White Sox go for another series sweep of the struggling Tigers on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
After rallying to win Tuesday’s opener 10-8 in 14 innings, Chicago (63-49) had an easier time in a 5-1 win over Detroit on Wednesday to remain one game ahead of Minnesota in the AL Central.
“We have to try and win every series we can,” Guillen told the White Sox’s official Web site. “Hopefully we come back and win this series and make it easy for us.”
Chicago is 9-5 against Detroit this season and swept a three-game set at Comerica Park from April 4-6. The White Sox are 46-24 against the Tigers since the beginning of the 2005 season.
Detroit (55-58) will be looking to avoid a seventh straight defeat that would match a season high after it lost its first seven contests of 2008. The Tigers are 8 1/2 games behind the White Sox.
“If we want to make any kind of run, which we still have a chance to do, sooner or later you got to do it,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Guillen was suspended for making contact with umpire Tim Timmons as well as his comments Sunday after the White Sox and Kansas City were involved in a bench-clearing brawl.
Jim Thome hit his 429th career home run and 22nd of the season Wednesday, a three-run shot in the first inning. He has three homers and six RBIs in his last five contests for the White Sox, who have won the first two games of a 10-game homestand after going 4-6 on a 10-game trip.
Alexei Ramirez drove in a pair of runs and is 4-for-10 with three RBIs in this series. He’s batting .313 (10-for-32) against Detroit this season.
Chicago will look to Javier Vazquez (8-9, 4.66 ERA) to continue his home dominance of the Tigers while trying to record consecutive winning decisions for the first time since May.
Vazquez is 5-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 11 starts versus the Tigers, but 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA against them at U.S. Cellular Field as a member of the White Sox. He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings of a 4-2 win at Kansas City on Friday.
“It was great for him to get that win and great mentally for his next start,” Guillen said of the right-hander, who’s lost his last two home starts. “It’s great for us, too, to give him the ball with confidence.”
The Tigers counter with Zach Miner (5-4, 3.77) as the former reliever makes his fourth straight start. He allowed three earned runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday.
The right-hander is 1-2 with an 8.53 ERA as a starter against the White Sox, but allowed two runs in six innings of a 6-4 home win over Chicago on July 27.
Gary Sheffield drove in the lone run Wednesday for the Tigers, who are 2-7 on a 10-game road trip.
Second baseman Placido Polanco, who homered twice Tuesday night, is 9-for-20 with five RBIs in his last four games and is batting .320 (16-for-50) against Chicago this season.