The Chicago White Sox are all but guaranteed to miss the postseason yet again – just like the Detroit Tigers. However, they still have a shot to get the better of the Tigers for the first time in seven years.
Chicago can even the season series Monday when it visits Detroit for a day-night doubleheader.
This four-game set features the second- and third-worst teams in the AL. While Chicago (70-77) has become accustomed to missing the playoffs – this would be the seventh straight year it has failed to reach the postseason – Detroit (69-79) is less familiar with this predicament and will fail to qualify for only the first time since 2010.
The Tigers have enjoyed a decisive edge against the White Sox in recent years, winning each of the last five season series after each team won eight meetings in 2009. The last year in which Chicago came out on top was with a 12-6 record in 2008.
Detroit owns a 7-5 advantage this year, though it still has some work to do with this series and another three games in Chicago from Oct. 2-4.
The Tigers had a four-game winning streak snapped in Sunday’s 10-3 loss to Kansas City, but Victor Martinez recorded his seventh RBI in the last five games. He’ll look to continue his prolonged success against the White Sox after posting a 1.043 OPS with 35 RBIs in his last 51 meetings. He’s batting .433 in this season’s series.
Starting the opener for Chicago will be Jeff Samardzija (9-13, 5.27 ERA), who continues to be abysmal. He gave up a career-high 10 runs along with 11 hits over a career low-matching three-plus innings in Tuesday’s 17-6 loss to Oakland, getting battered by the club that acquired him last July.
It’s been an all-around disappointing year for the right-hander, who owned a 3.61 ERA over his previous four seasons. His 7.0 strikeouts per nine innings mark his fewest since 2010 when he made only seven appearances.
"It’s been tough. It doesn’t feel good and it’s not what you want," he said.
"I wake up every day looking to compete and have fun and go out there and dominate. That’s what I’m here to do and every fifth day I’m going to come up and get ready to pitch, no matter what."
He’s 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in four starts against the Tigers this year after never facing them previously. He has kept things in check against Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, who are a combined 3 for 20 in the matchup.
Rookie Kyle Ryan (2-3, 5.32) gets the nod for Detroit in the first game, making his sixth start of the year and first since July 7. He’s 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA as a starter, though he limited Chicago to two runs over seven innings in a 4-3, 11-inning loss June 5.
In Game 2, Erik Johnson (2-0, 3.71) looks to continue his solid run for Chicago in three starts since being called up at the beginning of the month, though he needs to reduce his walks. He’s issued eight free passes over 11 innings in his last two outings.
Detroit will counter with Randy Wolf (0-3, 6.48), who has struggled to get through innings. Wolf has completed 4 1-3 or fewer in three consecutive starts after making it through seven in his first two.
Avisail Garcia is hitting just .097 over his last nine games with no RBIs in his last 12, but has driven in 25 runs in 27 career games against the Tigers, for whom he played from 2012-13.