The Chicago White Sox watched their lead in the AL Central shrink to two games, as all the tough talk and bravado they had coming into the series against second-place Detroit seemed like empty words after Friday's 7-4 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
A bigger problem for the Sox? They need to start showing that they can beat Detroit, especially since they have six games left with the Tigers this season, all coming over the next two weeks. After the latest loss, the Sox are now 4-8 against the Tigers, including five consecutive losses.
No one was more stung by the Friday loss than Jake Peavy, who was acquired in 2009 to be a staff ace. He's resembled one most of the season, but when it's mattered most against the Tigers, the veteran has fallen short.
Peavy is 1-2 in five starts against Detroit this season, allowing 21 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings for a 5.79 ERA, including two consecutive losses. He allowed six runs on nine hits in six-plus innings Friday. In his previous start against Detroit in July, he allowed four runs on eight hits in seven innings.
"When you get to the point in your career where I am and understand how hard it is to go to the playoffs, and you're a month or so off with a few-game lead .... this is what, as a ballplayer, you live to do -- play meaningful games late in the season," Peavy said. "There are so many teams right now that go to the ballpark that mathematically don't have much of a chance, and that's a tough place to be."
Tougher for Peavy to swallow was the fact that the Sox had pushed him back two days, taking him out of his Wednesday start and saving him for the opener of the weekend series. Peavy was battling an eye infection as well, but that crept up after the decision to delay his start had already been made.
So even with the extra rest, the results weren't there.
It wasn't as if Peavy lacked motivation, as he was the first to point out that Chicago had been swept the last time it played Detroit.
"We all know how the last series in Detroit went (a three-game Tigers sweep July 20-22)," Peavy said. "I don't think we have to be reminded."
The hope for second baseman Gordon Beckham now is to earn a split in the next two games, and leave town still holding a two-game lead.
"That's really all we have to do at this point is win one of these three games," Beckham said.