Chicago left-hander Chris Sale hopes to bounce back from a rare bad start on Sunday when the White Sox try to salvage the finale of an important three-game set with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Sale was roughed up by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, allowing four runs and six hits in only four innings, dropping him to 15-5 to go along with a 2.81 ERA.
"I just didn't have it tonight," Sale said. "Didn't bring it, didn't have it."
Sale has lost to the Tigers both times he has faced them this season and has pitched to a 6.00 ERA in those outings.
The Tigers have won the first two games of this series to pull within a game of the American League Central-leading White Sox. It won't get any easier for the White Sox on Sunday, as they go up against the AL's reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander, who is also coming off a shaky start.
Verlander did not get a decision on Tuesday in Kansas City, but he surrendered eight runs and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings in his team's 9-8 loss. He is 12-7 on the year with a 2.80 ERA.
The last time Verlander gave up eight runs in a game was April 6, 2009, Opening Day against the Blue Jays, and the last time he allowed 12 hits was Aug. 11, 2006, against the White Sox, when he gave up 13.
"I feel like most of the hard balls they hit all day were in that first inning, and just because I missed location. From there forward I made some pretty good pitches, and they just put them in play in the right spots," Verlander said.
Verlander beat Chicago the last time he faced the club and is 13-10 with a 4.05 ERA in 26 starts against them. However, he is 11-1 with a 2.32 ERA in his last 12 starts against the White Sox.
On Saturday, Max Scherzer struck out nine batters over eight scoreless and Miguel Cabrera knocked in two runs to help the Tigers to a 5-1 victory.
"Because of the situation we were in, it's a little bigger of a series," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But if we win tomorrow or lose tomorrow, it's not the end of the world."
Scherzer (15-6), who gave up four hits, has an ERA of 1.03 during his last five starts. He leads the majors in strikeouts with 204, just ahead of Verlander (198).
Francisco Liriano (5-11) hadn't lost since July 23, but the lefty suffered his first defeat in a White Sox uniform. Liriano gave up four hits and three runs with seven walks over four-plus innings.
Chicago has now lost five of its last six overall, and seven in a row at Comerica Park.
"There's a long way to go," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We're still where we want to be. You could be 15, 20 games back."
Detroit is 9-4 so far in the season series with Chicago.