Detroit Tigers (69-47) at Chicago White Sox (44-72)
Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
When I preview pitchers multiple times in a season, it's always fun to look at their overall numbers and compare them to their start(s) against the Tigers. More often than not, the Tigers have turned around some great numbers -- looking at you, Justin Masterson. This hasn't been the case with Chris Sale. He has allowed seven runs (five earned) in 14 2/3 innings against the Tigers this year, but has also racked up 19 strikeouts to just five walks.
This isn't to say that Sale hasn't struggled against someone, though. The Cleveland Indians have been Sale's Achilles heel all year long, scoring 16 of the 46 earned runs he has allowed in 2013 in just three outings. I think you know where I'm going with this: take those numbers out of the equation, and Sale is allowing a 2.13 ERA in 2013.
Sale has been dominant at home this year, allowing a 2.07 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting .187/.243/.281 against Sale at U.S. Cellular Field, and Sale has struck out at least six batters in all of his home starts this year.
Doug Fister looked shaky early on in his last start, allowing two runs in the third inning against the Indians. He settled down after that to get through six innings without allowing another run, and the Tigers eventually won in 14 innings. The outing brought his second half ERA all the way up to 1.29. Life is good for Doug Fister right now.
Hello, old friend
With Alex Rios now playing for the Texas Rangers, Justin Verlander can sleep at night. Well, that and because Verlander isn't scheduled to pitch in this series. A consequence of that trade is that former Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia is now on the White Sox roster. He made his Sox debut on Friday and went 2-for-9 with a run scored and four strikeouts in the weekend series.
Oh, and he probably had a date with the equipment manager.
The book on Sale is simple: don't let him get ahead or he will destroy you all day with that slider. The problem? If you don't hit him hard early -- something only the Indians have figured out how to do, apparently -- he's going to be around for eight innings and you won't see the gooey soft middle relief in the Sox bullpen. Unless you're able to foul off a bunch of pitches against him -- not a safe bet against a guy with a 10.5% swinging strike rate -- he's going to be around for a while. Fortunately, the White Sox offense has been bad enough that one or two runs off Sale is enough to win, and Fister has been his usual second half self.
Extra innings, because these types of games come in bunches.