Though the Chicago White Sox have struggled on the road of late, and certainly at Comerica Park, they might be catching the Detroit Tigers at the right time.
The AL Central-leading White Sox look to avoid a fifth straight loss to the second-place Tigers by handing them a fourth consecutive defeat Friday night.
If Detroit (69-61) is to reduce or potentially erase Chicago's three-game division lead this weekend, it must improve after being swept in a three-game set at Kansas City. Though the Tigers have won five of six at home and averaged 6.6 runs while winning nine of 10 against the White Sox at Comerica Park, they were held to one run in their last two losses to the Royals.
"We're a much better team than what we showed here," said Rick Porcello, who took the loss in Thursday's 2-1 defeat. "Chicago comes to town. It's a big series. Everybody should be excited. It's a chance to pick up some ground.''
The White Sox (72-58) plan to add to Detroit's struggles if they can bounce back themselves after losing three of four at Baltimore.
"You've got to go in there and put this series behind us and hopefully go into Detroit and play well,'' Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski said after Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Orioles. "We have to worry about Detroit.''
The Tigers are not the White Sox's only concern.
Chicago has batted .216 and scored 22 runs while losing six of seven on the road. It's been held to 15 runs while dropping four straight and five of six at Comerica Park in 2012.
All-Star Adam Dunn leads the majors with 38 home runs but is 5 for 33 (.152) with two homers in his last nine games. He's batting .182 (4 for 22) with two home runs at Detroit this season.
Teammate Kevin Youkilis is 1 for 21 with 10 strikeouts at Comerica Park in 2012. His only hit left the park.
Doug Fister (7-8, 3.67 ERA) is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts against the White Sox, but faces them for the first time as a Tiger. The right-hander is apparently ready to go after he suffered a strained groin in his last start Aug. 19 versus Baltimore, when he allowed seven runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 7-5 loss.
Chicago counters with Jake Peavy (9-9, 3.09), who is 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in four 2012 starts against the Tigers, including 0-1 with a 7.30 ERA in his last two. The right-hander gave up four runs in seven innings of a 4-2 loss at Detroit on July 20.
"The only way you beat a guy like (Peavy) is to out-compete him," manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "You'd better compete. I'm talking about every at-bat, you've got to compete, because that one hit you get might be the one that makes the difference in a game."
Opponents have managed to do that for the most part of late against Peavy, who is 0-2 with a 3.33 ERA in his last four outings since winning at Minnesota on Aug. 1. However, he gave up two runs in seven innings of a 9-8 win over Seattle on Friday.
Prince Fielder is batting .333 (9 for 27) with four doubles versus Peavy, and .429 (18 for 42) against the White Sox this year. Teammate Miguel Cabrera is 12 for 26 (.462) with three home runs and five RBIs in his last six games versus Chicago.