CHICAGO -- A string of losses against rival teams from the American League Central caused the Chicago White Sox to tumble from first place to fourth place in the division.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura knows the negative trend must stop -- and soon. After a series-ending, 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, the White Sox dropped 11 of their last 12 games against teams from the AL Central.
"It adds up," Ventura said. "When you play that many times, if you don't have a good record in your division, it's going to hurt you just because you have so many games with those guys."
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The White Sox (31-32) will meet against another division rival when they welcome the Detroit Tigers (32-30) to U.S. Cellular Field for a three-game series starting Monday. The Tigers dominated the first series between the teams from June 3-5, winning all three games by a combined margin of 22-9.
Since then, the Tigers have improved while the White Sox have continued to swoon.
Detroit is coming off a series win against the New York Yankees that improved the team's record to 8-3 in June. The Tigers have pulled even with the Royals for second place in the AL Central, only 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading Indians.
Meanwhile, the White Sox lost 14 of their last 18 games and 10 of their last 13 series. General manager Rick Hahn tried to shake up the roster last week when he designated right-hander Mat Latos and shortstop Jimmy Rollins for assignment, but the moves have done little to jump-start the rest of the roster.
Right-hander James Shields (2-8, 5.06 ERA) will make his second start since joining the White Sox on June 4 in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Shields will try to bounce back from a miserable first start with the White Sox in which he allowed seven earned runs in two-plus innings against the Nationals.
Shields, 34, is familiar with the Tigers after spending the majority of his career with Tampa Bay and Kansas City in the American League. In 18 career starts against Detroit, Shields is 7-6 with a 4.10 ERA.
Left-hander Matt Boyd (0-1, 3.38 ERA) will start for the Tigers. The 25-year-old hurler did not earn the victory in his last outing despite limiting the Toronto Blue Jays to one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. Monday's game will mark his first career appearance against the White Sox.
Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler carries a hot bat into the series. Kinsler recorded the first five-RBI game of his career Saturday against the Yankees, and he slammed a two-run home run in Sunday's finale.
"He's kind of Steady Eddie," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com. "He plays all the time, he's basically always hitting the same spot in the lineup. He's very intense and into the game. He's a catalyst and he brings a lot of attitude to the ballpark, in a good way."