Don’t look now, but after last night’s win the Detroit Tigers are only half a game behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. The White Sox have led almost the entire way in the division, but the Tigers have finally turned it on. Detroit was seen as a major underachiever through the first half of the year. If the Tigers are going to take the lead in the division on Saturday, they’ll have to do it against the White Sox Ace. First place is on the line in Detroit Saturday afternoon!
Chris Sale has been one of baseball’s best pitchers this year. Sale was turned into a starting pitcher during the offseason after being a successful reliever the past couple years. The results have been better than anyone could have expected. Sale is 11-2 with a 2.11 ERA so far this year. There is no doubt that his dominating pitching is one of the main reasons the White Sox have been such a positive surprise so far this season.
Adam Dunn hit a miserable .159 and had only 11 home runs last season. Dunn has 28 homers and 65 RBI’s to lead the team this year. Alex Rios is another guy who has bounced back in a big way from a down year in 2011. A.J. Pierzynski is putting together a great offensive season, and Paul Konerko continues to be the team’s best all-around hitter. The White Sox are averaging 4.68 runs per game this year.
Many people had written off Detroit after a poor first half of the season, but the Tigers have come roaring back of late. Detroit has won 8 of their last 10 games to close to within half a game of the division lead. Miguel Cabrera has been good all season, but he has been smashing the ball of late. Cabrera is hitting .328 with 21 homers and 77 RBI’s. Those 77 RBI’s are second in the majors behind only Josh Hamilton. Prince Fielder isn’t far behind with 68 RBI’s. Fielder was a huge offseason acquisition, and Tigers fans have to be happy with his play this year. Austin Jackson is a major spark for this offense from the leadoff spot. The Tigers have the fourth best batting average in baseball at .269.
The Tigers have struggled to find good starting pitching this year other than Justin Verlander. One of the main reasons the team is on a winning streak right now is that they have gotten some clutch performances from third and fourth starters in the rotation. Rick Porcello has been inconsistent all season, but he’ll need to be good to give them a chance here.
MLB Free Pick: Under 8.5
Sale has been shutting teams down all season, and Porcello has decent numbers against the White Sox in his career. Look for this one to turn into a tight low-scoring contest.