Despite matching their longest winning streak of the season, the Detroit Tigers have been unable to extend their lead atop the AL Central.
The Tigers look to win a sixth straight contest on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the last-place Chicago White Sox.
Detroit has won the first five contests of its eight-game homestand and has moved a season-high 16 games over .500 (61-45) thanks to victories in nine of its last 10.
However, thanks to an eight-game winning streak by Cleveland, the Tigers sit just two contests ahead of the Indians for the top spot in the division after Thursday's off day. The Kansas City Royals are also 6 1/2 games off the pace because of their nine straight wins.
That has the pressure on Detroit, which has plated 38 runs over its last four games and bested the Washington Nationals 11-1 on Wednesday to sweep a quick two-game set despite not having Miguel Cabrera in the lineup.
Cabrera, a Triple Crown winner a season ago, leads the majors with a .359 average, and is second in the AL with 32 homers and 99 RBI. However, he is dealing with a strained lower abdominal that he aggravated on Tuesday, but could still play Friday.
That should provide the Tigers with a boost as they take on a White Sox club that it holds just a 4-3 edge over in the season series. Chicago won two of three in Detroit in July after winning just three times in 18 games at Comerica Park over the previous two seasons.
The White Sox also did the Tigers no favors by getting swept in four games by the Indians, falling in defeat 6-1 on Thursday.
Chicago has lost seven straight, one shy of the season-worst eight-game slide it posted from May 27-June 4. The White Sox have lost 10 of their past 11 and sit 21 games behind the Tigers in the standings.
The White Sox's Paul Konerko could see time at first base in this series after playing 10 straight as the designated hitter following his return from a lower back strain.
Doug Fister aims to win a fourth straight start tonight for the Tigers and has allowed just three earned runs over that string of victories.
Fister has not lost since June 2 and was charged with only one unearned run on three hits and a walk over six innings of a 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Friday. The righty retired 12 in a row at one point and credited his defense despite the lone run he allowed being unearned.
"There were a couple of innings today (where I was) attacking the zone and within a couple of pitches they were hit right to guys," Fister said. "Lucky for me I have great defense behind me."
Fister is 9-5 with a 3.67 earned run average in 21 starts this season and will face the White Sox for the first time in 2013. The 29-year-old is 1-3 against them lifetime with a 3.89 ERA in seven games.
Left-hander Hector Santiago looks to secure his first victory since June 21 on Friday night for the White Sox.
Santiago is 3-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 25 games this season, including 14 starts. He made his eighth start in a row on July 23 and lost 6-2 to Detroit, giving up six runs -- three earned -- on five hits and five walks over six innings. It was a rough game as Chicago committed four errors in the setback.
Santiago looked much better next time out, Sunday versus Kansas City. The 25- year-old gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings, but did walk another four batters while striking out seven in a no-decision.
"I tried to keep us in the game and keep it close enough that we have a chance," Santiago said of his outing.
Santiago's outing versus the Tigers in late July was his first career start against them and he owns a 2.65 ERA in eight lifetime meetings.
The White Sox and Tigers meet Friday just a few days after being part of a three-team deal with Boston that landed Chicago starter Jake Peavy with the Red Sox.
Highly-touted outfield prospect Avisail Garcia ended up with the White Sox from the Tigers when all was said and done, while one of the players Detroit got was rookie infielder Jose Iglesias from Boston.
Iglesias is expected to provide the Tigers with insurance should shortstop Jhonny Peralta receive a lengthy suspension from his alleged involvement with Biogenesis.