DETROIT - Detroit has been creeping closer to first-place Chicago in the American League Central, and has an opportunity to seize first place with a series sweep this weekend.
The Tigers have won 10 of their last 12 games, including five straight against division opponents, while the White Sox come in having lost four of seven on their current 10-game road trip. Chicago and Detroit have split their eight head-to-head meetings so far this season.
Friday's series opener shapes up as a pitchers' duel. Chicago All-Star Jake Peavy was the AL Pitcher of the Month in April, while Detroit's Justin Verlander has emerged yet again as a front-runner for the Cy Young Award. Both teams boast some heavy hitters in their lineups, however — White Sox DH Adam Dunn is tied for the major league lead with 28 home runs, while Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera is among the league leaders in batting average (.326) and RBIs (76).
Peavy has lost five of his last six starts, including a rough outing July 14 at Kansas City that saw him give up six runs on 12 hits in seven innings. He was roughed up for six runs in his last start against Detroit on May 15, but in two prior outings against the Tigers this season, Peavy gave up five runs in 14 1/3 innings, striking out 14 while walking just two.
Verlander's numbers haven't taken much of a dip from his MVP campaign of a year ago, and he has won five of his last six starts after a 0-3 stretch in May and early June. The Detroit ace pitched eight shutout innings in his last outing, yielding just three hits and two walks while striking out eight in Baltimore. Verlander is 12-10 with a 4.13 ERA in 25 lifetime starts against Chicago.
Including his three starts this year, Peavy is 3-2 with a 4.26 ERA in eight career outings against the Tigers. 1B Prince Fielder has hit Peavy better than any of his teammates, going 8-for-24 with four doubles.
Chicago's biggest bats have struggled against Verlander — 1B Paul Konerko is 8-for-49 (.163) with two home runs and 15 strikeouts, while Dunn is 3-for-17 (.176) with two homers and 10 strikeouts.
The Tigers have owned the AL Central in head-to-head action, winning 40 of their last 58 games against division opponents. The White Sox have won nine of their last 11 within the division.
Recent meeting between Tigers, White Sox
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