Tigers-White Sox Preview

The Detroit Tigers aren’t just cruising toward their first
division championship since 1987. They’re steaming toward that
title with one of their longest win streaks in team history.

The Tigers will try to move a step closer to clinching the AL
Central by winning 12 in a row for the first time since 1934 on
Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

Detroit (86-62) reduced its magic number to four with a 5-0 win
in Chicago on Tuesday, its 21st in 25 games. That victory marked
the first time the Tigers had won 11 straight since Sept. 9-21,
1968, a season that ended with a World Series championship.

Detroit has produced at the plate and on the mound during its
streak, batting .334 and averaging more than eight runs while
posting a 2.36 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera is hitting .390 with 12 RBIs during the run,
while Victor Martinez has driven in 17 in Detroit’s last nine
games.

“You look at the talent around this room, if everybody gets
rolling it’s going to be tough to beat us,” pitcher Justin
Verlander said after earning his MLB-best 23rd win Tuesday. “This
last couple of weeks, it’s been an example of that.”

The Tigers haven’t won 12 straight since a team record-tying
14-game run July 31-Aug. 14, 1934, but Brad Penny (10-10, 5.19 ERA)
may not be the best candidate to help his team accomplish that
feat.

The right-hander is 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA over his last nine
starts and has allowed 19 runs – 15 earned – over 15 innings in his
last three outings. Penny, however, got the win in an 8-4 victory
over Minnesota on Friday after allowing four runs over five
innings.

“(My teammates are) going to score a lot of runs,” Penny said.
“If you can keep them somewhat close, you’ve got a chance to
win.”

The Tigers have won all four of Penny’s starts against the White
Sox (73-74) this season, and he’s 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA. However, he
gave up eight runs – four earned – and 10 hits over five innings in
the most recent matchup Sept. 3 and avoided a loss only when
Detroit pulled off a stunning rally for a 9-8 victory.

The Tigers have won 20 of 26 over the White Sox, outscoring them
54-15 in five consecutive wins this month. They’ve also won 10 of
13 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Detroit will try to add to that success by spoiling the first
career start for Dylan Axelrod (0-0, 0.00). The right-hander
pitched two scoreless innings in relief against Minnesota in his
major league debut last Wednesday.

“I’m definitely excited to get that chance. I want to go out
there and see what I can do,” Axelrod told the White Sox’s official
website. “It should be great.”

Axelrod was 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A
Charlotte before being recalled last week.

Alex Rios will try to help his rookie teammate by continuing his
success against Penny. The outfielder is 13 for 21 with five
doubles versus the right-hander in his career and 4 for 9 with one
double this season.

Cabrera is batting .381 this season against the White Sox and is
9 for 20 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in the past
five matchups.