The Detroit Tigers have dominated the Chicago White Sox this year, but still find themselves trailing in the AL Central.
The teams begin a critical four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night as the White Sox try to snap a seven-game skid versus the Tigers and create some breathing room atop the division.
Detroit has swept consecutive three-game home series against Chicago in the last two months, each time taking at least a share of the Central lead. However, both times the Tigers have been unable to build any sort of momentum.
Chicago (75-64), which has been outscored 43-22 during its losing streak against Detroit (73-66), opens this week with a two-game lead in the division.
However, neither team is playing very good right now. The Tigers were swept in three straight by the Los Angeles Angels to open a 10-game road trip while the White Sox dropped two of three to Kansas City at home.
"Obviously you don't want to lose that series and I thought we played OK today," Gordon Beckham said after Sunday's 2-1 loss in 10 innings. "An important series coming up and no rest. We've got to come back tomorrow and do it. We know it's important. We're excited to play them at home and not in Detroit, I guess."
Chicago's biggest issue is its inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Including the most recent series in Detroit, the White Sox are batting .198 (17 for 86) with runners on second or third over the last nine games. They were 2 for 10 Sunday.
They could, however, have some reinforcements in their starting lineup for the series opener. Kevin Youkilis is expected to be reinstated from the paternity list following a three-game absence while Alexei Ramirez figures to be back in a starting role after entering as a pinch runner in the seventh after arriving late for Sunday's game.
Adam Dunn, who missed all three games over the weekend, is day to day with a strained oblique.
Since moving into a first-place tie with a three-game sweep of Chicago, Detroit has lost five of six and was held to five total runs in three consecutive losses to the Angels.
"You've got to put this one behind you, and we've got to get ready for the White Sox tomorrow," manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "We can't do anything about this one. But certainly we had two of the games where we had our shot, and that's what happens when you don't get a big hit."
Delmon Young had a frustrating series, going 2 for 11 with five strikeouts while grounding into two double plays.
However, he was instrumental in the Tigers' sweep of the White Sox earlier this month, driving in seven runs and hitting two homers.
Rick Porcello (9-11, 4.58 ERA) will try to get the Tigers off to a good start in the final series between these teams.
Although he's lost a career-worst five straight starts, the right-hander has a 3.97 ERA in the last four outings but has received no runs of support during that span.
He gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday.
Porcello has been stellar against Chicago lately, going 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in the last six starts, including 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in three outings this season.
That might not leave much room for error for Jose Quintana (5-4, 3.68), who has been tagged for 12 runs over five innings in his last two starts - both losses.
His last outing was his worst of the season, as the left-hander lasted 1 1-3 innings and allowed seven runs and five hits in an 18-9 loss to Minnesota.