Originally posted on Grab Some Bench  |  Last updated 8/2/13
The White Sox head into Detroit for a weekend series with both teams heading in opposite directions.  The Sox have lost seven in a row after being swept by the Indians in a four game set in Cleveland.  Meanwhile, the Tigers come into the series winners of five straight and nine of their last ten and are undefeated on the current homestand after sweeping the Phillies and Nats.  The Sox are 3-4 against the Tigers this year, winning two of three in Detroit and losing three of four in Chicago. Pitching Matchups The series gets underway Friday night with Hector Santiago (3-6, 3.33 ERA) taking on Doug Fister (9-5, 3.67 ERA). After a couple rough starts in late June and early July, Fister has rediscovered his form and has put together three consecutive good outings.  He is 3-0 over that stretch with a 1.35 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .221 batting average.  For the season, Fister has been pretty dependable, posting quality starts in 15 of his 21 (71%) trips to the bump.  He has also been much better at Comerica Park, as he’s 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA at home versus 3-2 with a 4.08 ERA on the road.  This will be the first time the Sox face Fister this year, and in seven career starts against the White Sox, he is 1-3 with a 3.89 ERA.  Gordon Beckham (.286, HR), Alexei Ramirez (.313), Alex Rios (.500) and Adam Dunn (.571) have had some success against Fister in the past. Hector Santiago is coming off a solid month of July, although nothing showed up for him in the win column.  For the month Hector was 0-1 in five starts with a 2.78 ERA, 34 K’s in 32.1 innings, and a .197 opponent’s batting average.  The one area of concern for Santiago is that he walked nine batters combined in his last two starts (12.2 IP).  He faced the Tigers on July 23rd and took the loss allowing six runs (three earned) over six innings with five hits, five BB’s and six K’s.  The White Sox committed four errors behind him in that game.  Andy Dirks (2-for-3, HR) and Jhonny Peralta (2-for-8, HR) have both taken Hector deep. Saturday night’s pitching matchup is John Danks (2-8, 4.57 ERA) taking on All-Star starter Max Scherzer (15-1, 3.01 ERA). Scherzer continues to roll for the Tigers post All-Star break, including beating the White Sox back on July 22nd. In that game, he went eight innings and allowed two runs on four hits, didn’t walk anybody and struck out five.  His next start was even more impressive, as he threw six shutout innings against the Phillies, surrendering just one hit with seven strikeouts.  He was taken out after having thrown only 75 pitches because the Tigers had a huge lead. Scherzer has developed into the ace of the Tigers staff, and has struck out at least 5 batters in every start this year. He’s the only pitcher in baseball to accomplish that feat.  Adam Dunn (.292, 2 HRs) and Dayan Viciedo (.333, 2 HRs) have had the most success of any Sox hitter against Mad Max. Danks continues to fight his way through this season after returning from shoulder surgery in late May.  Danks pitched pretty well his last time out, tossing six innings against the Indians and giving up two runs (one ER) on two hits. Although he did walk four batters, it was the first time he has walked more than two in a game this year.  That start followed a couple of bad ones, including a start against the Tigers where Danks was roughed up for six runs on 11 hits over seven innings.  The Tigers also took him deep three times in that game, and the home run ball continues to be an issue for Danks, who has now given up 17 home runs this year (1.9/9 innings).  That is by far the highest HR/9 rate of his career. Torii Hunter (.324, 2 HRs), Austin Jackson (.414, 3 HRs), and Prince Fielder (.714, HR) have all hit Danks hard in the past. The finale of the series and the road trip will be Sunday afternoon and will see Andre Rienzo (0-0, 0.00 ERA) facing off with Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.49 ERA). Porcello has won his last four games after losing three in a row, and two of those wins in his current streak are against the White Sox.  Right before the All-Star break, Porcello beat the Sox, going six innings and giving up three runs on seven hits with six K’s. Then, in his next start after the break, Porcello tossed seven shutout innings against the Sox, giving up just four hits, although he did walk three batters. Last time out, Porcello navigated through some early trouble to beat the Phillies, going six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.  Porcello has now won six of his last seven decisions against the White Sox dating back to 2011.  Paul Konerko (.355, HR), Gordon Beckham (.375, HR), and Dayan Viciedo (.353, HR) have had success against Porcello. Andre Rienzo will be making his second Major League start for the Sox on Sunday. He was pretty impressive in his first outing, going seven innings and allowing three runs (no ER) on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.  He was cruising until the fifth inning when an Alexei Ramirez error opened the door for three unearned runs. Rienzo also got his ankle stepped on while covering first on an attempted double play.  He stayed in the game and threw two more good innings, and was thwarted in getting his first win when the Indians came back against the Sox bullpen in the eighth.  Keys to the Series Runners in Scoring Position: Believe it or not, the White Sox are hitting .286 with runners in scoring position since June 1, the third highest average in baseball.  Detroit has the second highest average with runners in scoring position since the start of June at .292. The big difference is that the Tigers are getting a lot more runners in scoring position and thus scoring more runs. On this homestand, the Tigers have been hot with the bats, scoring 40 runs in the five games and reaching double digits three times.  They are doing it against quality pitching as well, having beat Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels in that stretch.  Road Weary: The White Sox are now 18-38 (.321) on the road this season, the worst road winning percentage in the majors. They have lost six straight and 26 of their last 33 after starting the season 10-12.  On top of that, the Sox have won just five of their last 21 games at Comerica Park, and that includes the series win the last time they were in Detroit.  It is hard to believe that the Sox can be this bad on the road, and yet it continues to be the case.  They are winless on the current trip and are hitting just .229 with one home run and 12 runs scored in four games. Miggy-less Tigers?: Miguel Cabrera continues to battle a hip injury that has had him in and out of the Tigers lineup.  He missed the last game against the Nationals and was a late scratch from Friday’s opener with the Sox.  Cabrera has hit .291 with 21 home runs and 57 RBI in his career against the White Sox and is arguably the best hitter in the game.  Sox pitchers can benefit from him being out of the lineup, but will have to deal with a red hot Victor Martinez, who hit .390 with three homers and 20 RBI in the month of July.  Outlook Not good. The Tigers are hot right now and playing their best baseball of the season. Despite missing Cabrera, they have still managed to score a ton of runs lately, and Detroit’s starting pitching might be the deepest in the majors. They have also upgraded their bullpen with the addition of Jose Veras from the Astros, and Joaquin Benoit has been perfect since taking over the closer’s role. Meanwhile, the Sox can’t do anything right, and many fans are wondering if we are looking at the worst White Sox team in over 40 years.  
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