Tigers, Sox Meet In Rubber Game

The Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox will decide their first series of the season in Thursday's rubber game.

The Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox will decide their first series of the season in Thursday’s rubber game.

The relevance of a meeting between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox may have plummeted since last season but Thursday’s rubber game between the two still holds plenty of importance as we edge closer to the All-Star break.

20130711_ALCentralDespite leading the AL Central, Detroit (50-40, 27-17 home) has been far from elite of late. After holding a 5 1/2 game lead over the Cleveland Indians on June 10, the Tigers have struggled to a 14-13 record, a record that saw the clubs switch places at the top of the division on a number of occasions. The Indians – 17-11 since that date – have proven to be a much-improved side this season, and only a 2-6 record over the past nine days has kept the team behind the Tigers.

Entering Thursday’s game with a 3 1/2 game lead, the Tigers would love to pick up another win, especially with a tough series against the AL West-chasing Texas Rangers on tap this weekend.

Chicago (35-53, 16-32 road) meanwhile is looking at the season from a very different perspective.

The White Sox currently reside in last place within the division, 14 games back of the Tigers. Despite having a fairly respectable offense, the Sox have struggled to hit when it matters, recording just 330 runs and 320 RBIs this season, worst in the American League. Only the Miami Marlins (294 runs, 277 RBIs) have had a worse time of it this season.

The White Sox currently have somewhere in the vicinity of $43 million sat on the DL, something that certainly doesn’t help matters. Whereas the team was competing for a division championship last season, this year it looks as though the club will be trying to stave-off the Houston Astros in a race to avoid the worst record in the league.

Despite the vast echelons between the two clubs this season, the Sox began the week with an impressive 11-4 victory at Comerica Park, a victory that saw Alex Rios register six hits, tying the AL record for hits by a player in a nine-inning game.

Detroit bounced back on Wednesday to record an 8-5 win, outhitting the Sox 15-9. Dylan Axelrod (3-6, 5.33 ERA) gave up seven of those runs on seven hits, including Prince Fielder’s 16th blast of the season. While the Sox may be struggling to hit when it matters, the Tigers put on an exhibition in clutch hitting, scoring all eight runs with two outs.

Anibal Sanchez goes for a second straight win.

Anibal Sanchez goes for a second straight win.

The two clubs now look to Thursday’s rubber game (1:08 p.m. ET).

Anibal Sanchez (7-5, 2.70 ERA) will take the mound for the Tigers. The right-hander returned from injury on Saturday, throwing 73 pitches against the Indians. He yielded just one run on three hits, striking out four as the Tigers took the game 9-4.

The White Sox will counter with Chris Sale (5-8, 2.78 ERA), who will be heading to his second All-Star Game next Tuesday. Sale is the perfect example of how poor the Sox have been at scoring when it matters. His very respectable 2.78 ERA has been ruined by a lack of run support, resulting in a losing record. Sale hasn’t picked up a win since beating the Los Angeles Angels on May 17, despite averaging just 2.9 runs per game since. A victory would be heartily welcomed.

The Sox have dropped 11 of their last 14 games. The club has lost the last 5-of-25 on the road, and currently sports the worst road record in the American League and the third worst in the majors. Only the San Diego Padres (15-31) and Miami (14-31) have been more futile away from home.

Detroit has won seven of its last nine after a stint of losing 9-of-13.

Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers odds for 7/11/13 are available now.

Detroit (-160) opened as the favorite over Chicago (+150) on the moneyline, although most bookmakers are extending those odds. Both Bovada and Bookmaker currently have the Tigers at -165.

The over/under opened at 7 1/2.

Detroit (50-39-1) has favored the over this season while Chicago (36-45-7) has favored the under. Unsurprisingly for a series that has averaged 14 runs per game, both meetings this week saw the total go over.

Notes

Thursday’s game marks only the third meeting between these division rivals this season. The two clubs will play a whopping 16 games in the second half, including 10 between July 22 and August 14.

All-Star Chris Sale hasn't gotten much help from his offense.

All-Star Chris Sale hasn’t gotten much help from his offense.

Detroit will close out the first half this weekend at home to the Rangers. The White Sox visit the Philadelphia Phillies for an interleague series before heading back to the Windy City for a much-needed break.

Detroit will send six players to New York for Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Torii Hunter, and Justin Verlander all make return trips while the undefeated Max Scherzer will make his Midsummer Classic debut.

Sale will be the lone White Sox representative at Citi Field. Pitcher Jesse Crain – currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury – was also selected but will not appear.

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