Chicago White Sox (72-84) at Detroit Tigers (86-70)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: South Side Sox
Pitching Matchup: RHP Scott Carroll (5-10, 5.01 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-12, 3.37 ERA)
The White Sox handed David Price one of his worst starts of 2014 back in April, scoring eight runs (six earned) on nine hits in six innings. Jose Abreu homered (naturally), while Adam Eaton and Marcus Semien added a combined five hits in eight at-bats. The winning pitcher in that matchup? Scott Carroll, who threw 7 1/3 strong innings. Of course, Carroll was facing the Rays' offense in that game, which was also his major league debut.
Since then, Carroll has had a very up-and-down season. He lost his spot in the rotation after back-to-back starts in May with six runs allowed, then allowed just three hits in a combined 11 2/3 scoreless innings in back-to-back July starts. He has allowed two runs or fewer in six starts, but has also been tagged for five runs or more in 10 (!) starts. The Tigers were one of three teams to have put up a seven-spot on Carroll this year, though only three of the runs were earned. Carroll got pounded for 10 hits in five innings of work on the night, resulting in a 7-1 Tigers victory.
Concern over David Price's on-again, off-again performance in a Tigers uniform seems to be growing by the minute, and for good reason. The Minnesota Twins scored five runs on eight hits against Price in his last start, marking the third such outing for the lefty in his last five starts. He has a 4.62 ERA in his last six outings, and the numbers only go up if we look past his one-hit loss against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 21st. Price's strikeout-to-walk ratio has been stellar, but big innings have continued to be a problem. He walked three batters in his start against the Twins, the third time he has done so since coming to Detroit.
Hitter to fear: Paul Konerko (.435/.458/.739 in 24 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Alexei Ramirez (.192/.250/.192 in 28 plate appearances)
While they fared well in April, the current White Sox roster does not have much collective experience against Price. Only four hitters have faced him more than five times in their respective careers, while just two -- Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez -- have more than 20 career plate appearances against Price. Konerko has had plenty of success, collecting ten hits (including a pair of homers) in 23 at-bats. Ramirez, on the other hand, is just 5 for 26. Tyler Flowers has looked completely overmatched in his small sample, striking out four times in six hitless at-bats.
Despite how everything felt on Saturday evening with a 2 1/2 game lead, this division race is far from over. With the Kansas City Royals just one game back and facing little resistance from the Cleveland Indians, the Tigers could use a win tonight to keep moving closer to a title. On paper, this is a matchup they should win handily. Price, for all his recent faults, is still a really good pitcher, while Carroll is a rookie with an ERA above five. Sometimes, these things work out like they are supposed to. Here's hoping tonight is one of those times.
Price gets back on track and the Tigers cruise to an easy win.