The Tigers will try for their first 10-game streak in 43 years on Monday night when they open a three-game road series against the White Sox.
Detroit (84-62) led Chicago (73-72) and Cleveland by 5 1/2 games in the Central race before beginning a three-game home set Sept. 2 against the White Sox. The Tigers outscored Chicago 35-11 in sweeping that series and have not lost since.
The nine-game win streak matches Detroit’s longest since the 1984 World Series champions won that many. The last time the Tigers won 10 in a row was an 11-game run Sept. 9-21, 1968 - the previous time they won the World Series before 1984.
Detroit’s magic number to win the division is seven, and Chicago is merely looking to fare better than it did the last time these teams met.
“We have to go strong,” manager Ozzie Guillen told MLB.com. “I hope they don’t approach us the same way they did out there. Guys have to go out there and play. We have to go there and finish strong, but I don’t see anything different. I hope we pitch better.”
Detroit owns the second-best record among AL division leaders in the race for home-field advantage. The Tigers are also within striking distance of the East-leading Yankees for the league’s best record.
“I’m happy,” Valverde said. “My team is in first place, and that’s what I want.”
The Tigers have won 10 of the last 12 games started by Rick Porcello(notes) (13-8, 4.87 ERA), who will try to reverse his poor history against the White Sox. Porcello is 1-4 with a 7.46 ERA in six starts against Chicago.
The right-hander improved to 8-3 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 road starts after yielding one run over 6 1-3 innings last Tuesday in a 10-1 rout of Cleveland.
Chicago right fielder Carlos Quentin(notes) should return in this series after being activated from the disabled list Monday, though he wasn’t in the starting lineup. Quentin, who had been out with a sprained shoulder, is second on the White Sox with 24 homers and 77 RBIs.