Game 9 Preview: Tigers at White Sox

Apr 9, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (49) follows through in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (5-3) at Chicago White Sox (5-2)

Time/Place: 2 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field

SB Nation Blog: South Side Sox

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, WGN (Chicago broadcast), MLB.TV (Free Game of the Day), Tigers Radio Network

Pitching matchup: Rick Porcello (0-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (1-0, 1.35 ERA)

Sale is a tall, lanky lefthander with kind of a side arm delivery (think Randy Johnson) that theoretically should wreak havoc on lefties. While this is true in terms of power – he’s only given up one home run to a lefthanded hitter in his career – righties actually have a lower batting average and on-base percentage against him. Sale has struck out over a batter per inning throughout his career, and his walk numbers (3.5 per 9 innings) aren’t terrible either. Granted, these stats are in 101 career innings and nearly all in relief, so take this analysis with a grain of salt.

In his first career start, Sale took the mound against the Cleveland Indians after his team had spotted him a 3-0 lead. Sale was impressive, giving up just one run on 5 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He was effectively wild, working around 2 walks and a hit batter while missing the strike zone with roughly 40% of his pitches.

Porcello backed quite a few Tigers fans off the proverbial ledge with a dominant start on Tuesday afternoon. He gave up 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings pitched to the Tampa Bay Rays, using both his two-seamer and slider to great effect against a Rays lineup that absolutely torched the Yankees pitching staff. Porcello has struggled against the White Sox throughout his career, amassing a 2-4 record with a 6.91 ERA in 7 career starts. He won his only start against Chicago last season, a 14-4 Tigers win in early September.

The Notorious I.N.G.E. Returns

You probably haven't heard this yet, but Brandon Inge just might play today. Inge will likely make his career debut at 2nd base after what can only be described as an abysmal spring. The anti-Inge side of the fanbase grows larger with every check swing strikeout and pop-out in foul territory, but it doesn't seem to phase Inge's mentality in the slightest. Inge's job security with the Tigers is unknown to the vast majority of us, but it won't get any more sturdy if he doesn't hit, plain and simple.

Outlook

This is by no means a "must win" game for the Tigers, but the outcome of final game of this series may go a long way for the collective psyche of both teams moving forward (though more so for Chicago). The White Sox would obviously gain confidence from the sweep, while the Tigers would take solace in the fact that they weren't swept in their first road series of the season. Getting out of Chicago with a 'W' today could go a long way to putting this mini-slump (if you can even call it that) behind the Tigers.

Prediction

Inge goes 0-for-3 with a strikeout, but makes a nice defensive play at 2nd.

Gameday Reading:

Sale can start in peace after strong debut - South Side Sox, Jim Margalus
A closer look at Chris Sale's performance in his first start of the season.

Former high school fall league teammates Hector Santiago, Rick Porcello could be reunited during Chicago White Sox-Detroit Tigers series this weekend - Chicago Tribune, Mark Gonzales
Santiago claims that Porcello was hitting triple digits on the radar gun in high school. Uhh, dude, what happened?

White Sox 5, Tigers 1: Detroit's wire-to-wire dreams dashed - South Side Sox, Jim Margalus
"With the victory, the White Sox took over first place, knocking the Tigers out of the lead for the first time all season."

Tigers' Brandon Inge looking forward to possibly starting Sunday - The Detroit News, Tom Gage
"Sunday's game will be the ninth of the season for the Tigers, but the first Inge is likely to start." Oddly enough, most are hoping it will be his last.

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