The Detroit Tigers are trying to remain in range of the American League Central-leading Cleveland Indians as they open a four-game series on Thursday against the host Chicago White Sox. Detroit is a distant 7 1/2 games behind the soaring Indians and the club’s better option may be focusing on closing in on Toronto, Boston and Houston in the wild-card race.
Chicago has fallen 10 games behind the Indians after a 1-5 road trip that concluded with Wednesday’s 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Seattle Mariners, marking the second time in three games that the White Sox blew a late three-run lead. “It is tough, especially when you’re leading both the ones that you lose late,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters afterward. “Those are always tough to be able to bounce back.” The Tigers will try to get their bats moving again after scoring just four total runs while losing two of three home games to the AL-worst Minnesota Twins. Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler is 8-for-24 with three homers since the resumption of play after the All-Star break and hit his 36th career leadoff homer for the lone run in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Twins.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Detroit, CSN Chicago
Tigers – LF T. Collins (Questionable Thursday, neck), RF J. Martinez (15-Day DL, elbow).
White Sox – C A. Avila (15-Day DL, hamstring), RP Z. Putnam (15-Day DL, elbow), CF A. Jackson (15-Day DL, knee).
WEATHER REPORT: There is a chance of thunderstorms to develop in Chicago on Thursday night with a 50 percent chance of rain. Temperatures will be in the upper-80’s with humidity values hovering around an uncomfortable 70 percent. There will also be a 10 mph wind blowing out to left at U.S. Cellular Field tonight.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Mike Pelfrey (2-9, 4.95 ERA) vs. White Sox RH James Shields (4-11, 5.10)
Pelfrey gave up two runs and five hits in six innings while beating the White Sox on June 4 – the lone time he has beaten Chicago in 10 career starts. He lost 11 days later when he gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings and is 1-5 with a 5.81 ERA lifetime against the White Sox. Pelfrey is 0-6 in nine road starts this season despite a respectable 3.53 ERA.
Shields was superb in his last outing when he gave up one run and two hits in eight innings but he suffered the loss in a 1-0 decision against the Los Angeles Angels. He has a 1.91 ERA over his last four starts – allowing two or fewer runs in each – after initially struggling upon being acquired from the San Diego Padres in early June. Shields is 7-6 with a 4.36 ERA in 20 career starts against the Tigers.
* Tigers are 10-2 in their last 12 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.
* Tigers are 1-5 in Pelfrey’s last 6 road starts.
* White Sox are 1-6 in their last 7 overall.
* Under is 7-0 in Tigers last 7 games vs. a right-handed starter.
* Under is 5-0 in Pelfrey’s last 5 road starts.
* Over is 4-0 in Shields’ last 4 starts vs. a team with a winning record.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is favoring the home favorite Detroit Tigers at a rate of 53 percent in this battle of struggling starting pitchers. In a less than surprising development, Over 10.5 is getting 60 percent of the total action. View full consensus data here.