Nothing has been determined in the AL Central yet, but the Chicago White Sox are making sure they maintain their grip on first place.
The White Sox look to create more breathing room in the division, and look for their second consecutive win over the New York Yankees when the teams continue their four-game set on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Chicago (84-66) is looking to capture its second division title in four years. It’s been battling Minnesota for the top spot in the division for much of the last month, and the teams will meet in a crucial three-game series from Sept. 23-25 at the Metrodome.
With a 6-2 win on Tuesday, the White Sox pushed their lead to 2 1/2 games over Minnesota, which lost 12-9 in 11 innings to Cleveland.
The White Sox also got a boost from Paul Konerko, who missed the previous five games with a knee injury. He had two hits and drove in a run, and is batting .391 (18-for-46) with four homers and six RBIs over his last 13 games.
“We need that from him,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He picked up where he left off before he got hurt.”
Meanwhile, New York (84-66) - in the midst of its final homestand at Yankee Stadium - saw Derek Jeter reach a milestone. The All-Star shortstop had a pair of singles, giving him 1,271 hits to eclipse Lou Gehrig’s record at the 85-year-old ballpark, which is set to close Sunday.
Jeter’s performance wasn’t enough, though, as the Yankees had their three-game winning streak snapped.
“It’s kind of hard to enjoy it because we lost the game,” Jeter said. “But this is something that is pretty special. I mean, I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t. Records are made to be broken, but this one at least will never be broken.”
The 22-year-old Hughes (0-4, 9.00 ERA) returns to the Yankees for the first time in more than four months.
He’s made six starts this season, most recently allowing six runs and eight hits over 3 2-3 innings of a 6-4 home loss to Detroit on April 29. The right-hander left with a stress fracture in his rib, and was placed on the disabled list two days later.
In early August, he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he went 1-0 with a 5.90 ERA in six outings. On Friday, he fanned 12 in five innings to lead the minor-league club to the International League title.
“I really am confident in the way I am pitching - knowing I can throw strikes,” Hughes said. “I think I’m more mechanically sound right now.”
Hughes didn’t earn a decision in a brief appearance against the White Sox on April 24. He allowed a hit over two scoreless innings in a 7-6 loss in Chicago.
The White Sox, meanwhile, counter with the 25-year-old Richard (2-4, 6.94), who hasn’t pitched since he allowed five runs and five hits over four innings of an 8-2 loss in the nightcap of a doubleheader against visiting Toronto on Sept. 9.
The left-hander, who is 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA in six road appearances, has never faced the Yankees.