The Chicago White Sox are nearing the finish line in their quest for a playoff berth, and now it looks like they will probably cross that line at the home of a division rival.
Following a 7-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, the White Sox (85-64) have a magic number of four to clinch the American League Central Division title.
The next step in the quest to fulfill that magic number is the first game of a three-game series in Detroit Monday night.
The next eight games for the White Sox are at Detroit and Cleveland (5 games), so odds are good they’ll get to celebrate in the visitor’s clubhouse at one of those stadiums.
“Clinching is just really getting in,” White Sox infielder Tim Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s when it really starts. But we just take it one day at a time, continue to try to get wins. We know we’re going to clinch. We understand that. Not too far away from it. But we’ve got to continue to stay hungry heading toward October and I think that’s when the real ball starts.”
As for Monday, the White Sox will continue their season series against a Tigers team they have dominated.
Chicago is 18-5 against Detroit over the past two years, although there has been some recent trouble against the Tigers.
After going 9-1 against Detroit last year and winning the first nine of 11 games against the Tigers this year, Detroit took the last two games of a three-game series against the White Sox in July and are definitely a much-improved outfit from the team the White Sox spent last year and the first half of this year beating up on.
Since starting 9-24, Detroit is 63-54 since May and is hoping to catch Cleveland for second place in the division.
Detroit (72-78) enters 2 1/2 games behind Cleveland for second place.
The pitching matchup will be Carlos Rodon for the White Sox and rookie Matt Manning for the Tigers.
Rodon has established himself as an American League Cy Young candidate, coming in with a 12-5 record, a 2.38 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 124 2/3 innings pitched. He is 4-2 with a 5.28 ERA in eight meetings against the Tigers over his career, including 2-0 in two meetings this season.
The Tigers will counter with Manning, who comes in with a 4-6 record and a 5.75 ERA in 72 innings pitched.
Manning is coming off a terrific performance against Milwaukee last week, allowing two hits, one run and striking out six in six innings of work. He started against the White Sox once this season, giving up two runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings (6.75 ERA).
Detroit should also be fairly well-rested in its bullpen thanks to a clutch start from Wily Peralta at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Peralta tossed seven shutout innings in leading the Tigers to a 2-0 win and set the bullpen up for the White Sox series.
“He delivered,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He did an incredible job of getting seven scoreless. We needed it. We were thin in the bullpen and we needed him to go deep. It was against a good team.”
–Field Level Media