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Open Thread - Game 140: White Sox (59-80) vs. Tigers (74-65)

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Mark Buehrle (9-9, 3.47) vs. Chad Durbin (8-6, 4.76), 1:05 p.m. EST

First, Kenny Rogers returned. And he gave the Tigers five good innings of pitching last night. Today, Gary Sheffield comes back. And the lineup sorely needs some middle-of-the-order thunder from him, after scoring only three runs in the last two games. With two key veterans rejoining the team, the Tigers are now close to fully loaded for a playoff run. But they need to win today's rubber game against the White Sox to get that started.

The decision to start Chad Durbin indicates what kind of urgency the Tigers are feeling now. No more taking chances with a minor league pitcher, hoping that he can give the team five or six good innings. It's been almost three weeks since Durbin pitched five innings, in a start against the Yankees (giving up four runs and two homers in five innings). Since he was originally going to start last Friday in Oakland, however, the Tigers must think he can give them an extended effort.

Mark Buehrle has been on kind of a good start/bad start pattern, and pitched pretty well against the Indians last week (allowing two runs in seven innings). So maybe he's due to give up some runs today. This season against the Tigers, Buehrle has a 1-1 record and 6.28 ERA. In 14 innings, he's given up 10 runs and 21 hits.

Going into today's game, the Tigers are seven games behind the Indians in the AL Central, and trail the Yankees by 3 1/2 in the Wild Card standings. (They're just a 1/2 game behind the Mariners for second place, however.)