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.