The surging Detroit Tigers pay a visit to U.S. Cellular Field on Monday to begin a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox.
Detroit (69-47) has been among the hottest teams in baseball, having won 17 of its last 20 games to open a seven-game lead in the American League Central. However, the Tigers dropped two of three at Yankee Stadium over the weekend to sap some of that momentum.
On Sunday, Brett Gardner delivered a walk-off home run for New York to cap a 5-4 victory. Tigers starter Justin Verlander pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, striking out nine and walking one batter.
"At the end, we came out a loss," catcher Victor Martinez said. "But you know what, man, they were three good games. There's nothing you can do about it. We went out there and fought. That was it."
Miguel Cabrera homered in all three games for the series, two of which came off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who has blown three straight save opportunities.
Chicago (44-72) lost three of four at home to Minnesota after sweeping the Yankees last week to begin its 10-game homestand. On Sunday, Jose Quintana was tagged for five runs in the fifth inning, as he surrendered home runs to Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Adam Dunn and Conor Gillaspie each homered for Chicago in the loss.
"That's just baseball," manager Robin Ventura said of his team's recent struggles. "You have to be able to persevere through it and that's what we're in the process of doing."
White Sox starter Chris Sale boasts a 2.77 ERA in 21 starts this season, including three complete games. The All-Star has only a 7-11 record to show for his efforts, although one of those victories came in his last outing. Sale twirled 7 1/3 shutout innings against the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
"Every situation you're in is a learning experience: Good, bad or indifferent," Sale said. "Each outing, you learn something, and I learned a lot last year having success and facing some adversity this year. You take the good with the bad through it all."
Doug Fister gets the nod for Detroit, and he is coming off a fine outing at Cleveland in which he yielded only two earned runs in six innings, striking out eight. Prior to that, Fister had notched four wins in four starts. The right-hander is unbeaten in his last eight starts.
Detroit has won seven of 10 meetings in the head-to-head matchup this season. The Tigers swept a three-game set at home in early August, as they allowed only three runs for the series.