Chicago White Sox (72-60) at Detroit Tigers (71-61)
Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: South Side Sox
Media: ESPN2, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Chris Sale (15-5, 2.81 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.80 ERA)
Sale has come back to earth as of late, but when "earth" is a 4.47 ERA in his last seven starts, you know things are going well. So when I use the word "struggled" in the next sentence, it's all just relative. Sale has struggled on the road this season, allowing a 3.86 ERA compared to just a 1.74 ERA at home. He seems to have trouble with his command away from Comiskey, walking over 3 batters per 9 innings (compared to just 1.39 BB/9 at home). Sale has struggled against the Tigers this year as well, allowing 8 runs in 12 innings of work. Detroit -- and Rick Porcello, in particular -- is responsible for two of Sale's five losses this year.
After Verlander's last start, I think it's safe to say that he won't be repeating as MVP this season. JV still has an outside shot at the Cy Young, but it will take a whale of an effort down the stretch for him to overtake Felix Hernandez at this point. As for things relevant to tonight's game, Verlander shut down the White Sox in his only other start against them this season, allowing just 4 hits in 8 innings en route to a 4-2 Tigers win. It will be interesting to see whether JV can shake off his last start and the (figurative) bright lights of a national ESPN broadcast. For what it's worth, the last time ESPN was in town was Verlander's dominant performance against the New York Yankees on August 6th.
Last night's win puts a lot of pressure on Sale and the White Sox to salvage this series with at least one win. To make matters worse -- for them, that is -- they have to do it against the MVP. Even if the Tigers lose, they will have picked up a game on the White Sox this weekend and don't have to face the red-hot Royals prior to the next series between these two teams. That being said, a win tonight would be huge. Hopefully Verlander is up to the challenge.
Another bullpen implosion by the White Sox gives the Tigers a share of the division lead.
Tigers 5, White Sox 1: Lead down to one - South Side Sox, Jim Margalus
"For the second straight game, the White Sox couldn't help themselves offensively. And this time, the Sox didn't test the Tigers defense to bail them out."
Scherzer Dominates; Delmon Young Straight Up Trolls Everyone - Walkoff Woodward, Grey Papke
"The contribution of Max Scherzer is not totally a surprise, given that he essentially dominated the month of August. Tonight, however, he took it to another level – 8 innings, 4 hits, 9 strikeouts."
Chris Sale makes adjustment in prep for Justin Verlander - Chicago Tribune, Mark Gonzales
"Sale also worked on his breaking pitches that could be effective against a predominantly fastball-hitting Tigers lineup."