A chance to face the Chicago White Sox couldn't come at a much better time for struggling Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder.
Judging by his recent experience, Fielder appears to have a promising chance to end the longest hitless stretch of his career Monday night while helping the Tigers earn back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly a month.
Fielder is 0 for 22 since homering in the seventh inning Tuesday during a win in Seattle, and went 0 for 18 with six strikeouts while Detroit (17-17) split a four-game series in Oakland. Manager Jim Leyland, though, isn't overly concerned with his first baseman.
"We've got guys who've got track records that will hit,'' Leyland said. "It's just a matter of when."
Fielder figures to have a good shot to end his drought Monday as he has at least one hit in seven straight matchups with Chicago (16-19) and is 9 for 23 (.391) in six games this season.
The White Sox have more than a few hitters who will be looking to get back on track during this two-game set.
Chicago scored 18 runs over three straight wins last week, including a 5-0 series-opening victory over visiting Kansas City on Friday, but got just one runner across the plate while dropping the next two games.
The White Sox were held to three singles during a 5-0 defeat Saturday and left 10 men on base during a 9-1 loss in the finale.
"We have guys that are swinging OK, it's just not coming through," manager Robin Ventura said. "You have to continue to grind. I know they're going to work and go at it."
A matchup with the Tigers, losers in 14 of 22, could help Ventura's club get back in the win column, but not if Drew Smyly (1-0, 1.59 ERA) continues the precocious start to his career.
The rookie left-hander has not allowed more than two runs in any of his first six outings, including a 5-4 home win over Chicago on May 4. He allowed one run and two hits over six frames Wednesday in Seattle, but a lack of run support once again hindered his chances for a win.
The AL's ERA leader received six runs in his lone victory, a 7-5 road win over the New York Yankees on April 28, but has gotten two or fewer in each of his other five games.
If a couple teammates can continue their recent hot hitting, Smyly might get a little more help Monday.
Miguel Cabrera broke out of an 0-for-13 slump by going 9 for 18 over the four games in Oakland and went 3 for 5 with two RBIs during a 3-1 victory Sunday. Andy Dirks also extended his hit streak to eight games and is 15 for 31 (.484) during that run.
Cabrera, Dirks and the rest of the Tigers will try to add to John Danks' struggles at home while giving their team two straight victories for the first time since a four-game streak April 15-18 that started with a win in Chicago.
Danks (2-4, 5.89) has allowed at least seven runs in each of his last two outings at U.S. Cellular and has given up eight in each of his last two matchups with Detroit, including a 14-4 home loss Sept. 12.
The left-hander, though, gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings in his most recent start Tuesday in Cleveland.