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Game 35 Preview: Tigers at White Sox

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May 8, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks (50) delivers in the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
May 8, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks (50) delivers in the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (17-17) at Chicago White Sox (16-19)

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field

SB Nation Blog: South Side Sox

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Drew Smyly (1-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. John Danks (2-4, 5.89 ERA)

Danks has been a true innings eater this season, averaging 6 1/3 innings per start despite an ERA hovering around 6. Where he has run into trouble is the second time that he goes through the opposing batting order. During their first plate appearances, opponents are hitting .190/.226/.293 against Danks. The second time around: .296/.387/.481. If the Tigers can force Danks to throw a lot of pitches the first time through the order, it should make things even easier once Austin Jackson steps into the batters box again.

In his last start, Danks was spotting his fastball well and pitched 7+ strong innings against the Cleveland Indians. He breezed through the first seven innings before leaving in the 8th inning after giving up two bloop singles. Both of the runs charged to Danks were allowed by starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter Chris Sale after Danks left the game. Against Danks, the Indians were making solid contact for most of the night, but couldn't get anything to fall. He got out of a jam in the 7th when Michael Brantley lined into a double play that nearly gave Hawk Harrelson an aneurysm. While luck played a big role in his success, Danks' strong start was a welcome sight for the White Sox.

I feel like I'm starting to get very repetitive when I talk about Smyly in these previews. He's putting together a fantastic rookie season, and I'm not sure anyone outside of the Tigers' organization and fanbase even knows who he is. Smyly gave up two runs in six innings in his last start against the White Sox and should hope to do the same again today. The White Sox struggle against lefthanded pitching, hitting just .224/.285/.360 against lefty starters. They were dominated by Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals yesterday and have been stymied by a number of run-of-the-mill lefties this season.

Correction: Duffy left the game after 3 batters. Righthander Luis Mendoza did a lot of the dirty work for the Royals yesterday. The abysmal stats are still the same. Thanks to davking1980 for pointing out my error.

Adam Dunn is back

It took a little while to get him started, but it looks like 2011 is completely in Adam Dunn's rearview mirror. In the last two weeks, he has an OBP of .455 and an OPS of 1.308, largely thanks to 7 home runs and 13 walks in that time span. He has struck out 49 times already this year, putting him on pace for to break Mark Reynolds' record of 223 K's in 2009. Look for him to add a couple more strikeouts today against Smyly.

Outlook

After a 3-4 west coast road trip, the Tigers get back to the cozy confines of the AL Central for four games before a random interleague series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's especially important for the Tigers to pick up some wins in this stretch, because a 10-game road trip followed by a three game series against the New York Yankees looms just after. Despite his good start last time out, Danks has been very hittable this year, and I don't expect that to change today.

Prediction

Smyly picks up win number two (and BYB POTG #5) with another strong effort.

Gameday Reading:

3 up, 3 down - South Side Sox
Consider this a "hot or not" for the White Sox roster in early May.

Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox preview - Chicago Tribune, Dave van Dyck
A minimalist preview from the Chicago Tribune. Looks like Tuesday's game will be on WGN for out-of-towners without MLB.TV.

May has been a balm to Gordon Beckham’s BA - Chicago Sun-Times, Toni Ginnetti
"Beckham is hitting .302 this month (13-for-43) with seven RBI to lift his average from .153 to .216."

Adam Dunn's Strikeout Streak - Baseball Nation, Jeff Sullivan
"It’s over. It’s over, after lasting 36 games."