After taking the opener in their crucial four-game series with Detroit, the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox can move four up on their closest challenger for the first time all season with another win over the second-place Tigers.
That could prove difficult, however, considering scheduled starter Jake Peavy hasn't been able to beat anyone except for the AL's worst team since the All-Star break.
The Tigers (73-67) took an early 1-0 lead in Monday's opener on Jhonny Peralta's RBI single in the second inning, and the score remained that way until the sixth, when Alex Rios hit a three-run homer and A.J. Pierzynski followed with his 26th home run. The White Sox (76-64) tacked on two more in the eighth on Gordon Beckham's two-run shot and won 6-1 to move three up on Detroit and snap a seven-game losing streak in the series.
"This win being the first one of the series is pretty big,'' Rios said. "This whole series is pretty important for both of the teams. We are going to have a chance to maybe get a couple of games ahead if we win the series. It could decide what is going to happen at the end of the year.''
Seeking their first division crown since 2008, the White Sox give the ball to Peavy (10-10, 3.22 ERA), who unfortunately doesn't get to face Minnesota again.
Peavy allowed a run in six innings in a 6-2 victory over the Twins on Wednesday, snapping a five-start winless stretch. In his 10 starts since the All-Star break, he's posted a 1.35 ERA in winning his three games versus Minnesota, but is 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA against all other opponents.
That includes two starts against the Tigers, in which he's recorded a 6.92 ERA in losing each. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in five starts in the season series, with the White Sox losing each of the last four.
His struggles versus the Tigers shouldn't be too surprising considering Cabrera is 8 for 16 with two homers and a double against him this year, while Fielder is hitting .400 with two doubles in 15 at-bats.
Although Cabrera, Fielder and company have roughed up Peavy, Detroit's offense hasn't been doing much lately.
The Tigers have totaled six runs during a four-game skid, and have lost six of seven, scoring two runs or fewer in each defeat.
"When you're scoring one, two runs a game, you can hardly blame your defense for what's going on," Jim Leyland said. "Right now we're just not scoring runs.''
The only time Detroit managed any offense in the last week came in scheduled starter Doug Fister's last outing, when he allowed a run and four hits in seven innings in Wednesday's 7-1 win over Cleveland.
Prior to that game, Fister (8-8, 3.54) gave up three runs, four hits and four walks in five innings of Detroit's 7-4 comeback win over Chicago on Aug. 31. That was his first start in 12 days after being sidelined because of right groin tightness.
The righty is 0-2 with a 3.52 ERA in five career starts versus the White Sox, but has done an excellent job of shutting down some of their top hitters. Paul Konerko is 3 for 15 lifetime against Fister, Kevin Youkilis is 2 for 12 and Pierzynski is 1 for 14.
Rios has had no trouble in matchups with Fister, though, batting .636 in 11 career at-bats.