The Tigers try to build on another impressive offensive showing and hand the tough-luck All-Star a seventh straight defeat in Thursday’s series finale at Comerica Park.
Detroit (50-40) is one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball and has averaged 6.9 runs while going 7-2 in its last nine. Miguel Cabrera Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez each had three hits as the Tigers pounded out 15 in an 8-5 win Wednesday.
Fielder hit his 16th homer, Cabrera is 9 for 20 with three home runs in his last five games and Martinez is batting .429 during a 12-game hitting streak. However, the three are a combined 3 for 25 against Sale (5-8, 2.78 ERA).
The left-hander ranks fourth in the AL in ERA and fifth in strikeouts with 123, but he’s last in the major leagues in run-support average at 2.46, leaving him with a subpar record.
The White Sox (35-53) have lost six of his last seven starts, with Sale going 0-6 with a 3.10 ERA. He has struck out 62 over 49 1-3 innings and limited opponents to a .215 average in that span, but has been backed by nine runs of support.
“You can’t expect him to blank everybody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Sale yielded three runs in seven innings of a 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. “He’s pitching fine, competing and doing all the things you want him to do. It’s just when you don’t get any runs, it seems like it’s wasted. We need to put some points on the board.”
Sale will be the first All-Star to head into the break with eight losses since Toronto’s Ricky Romero in 2011. No pitcher has been selected to an All-Star game with more losses since Bert Blyleven was 8-9 for Cleveland in 1985.
Sale could be in danger of matching that dubious feat as he’s posted a 6.00 ERA in losing all three of his starts against the Tigers.
Detroit turns to Anibal Sanchez (7-5, 2.70), who is coming off an encouraging outing in his first start off the disabled list.
After being sidelined since June 16 because of a strained shoulder, Sanchez gave up one run and three hits over five innings of a 9-4 win at Cleveland on Saturday. He walked one and was pulled after throwing 73 pitches.
“I am building my arm,” the right-hander told the Tigers’ official website. “I don’t know how many (pitches) I will have next time, but it’s going to be better.”
A better performance certainly seems possible for Sanchez, who has never faced the White Sox. He is 5-1 with a 1.64 ERA at Comerica Park, and Sale has been backed with four total runs of support in his last six road starts.
Chicago, loser of 11 of 14, ranks last in the AL in runs with 330, though it’s totaled 16 in the first two games of this series.
Gordon Beckham homered Wednesday and is batting .441 with his first two home runs of the season in nine games this month.
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