Do ChiSox need weekend sweep in Motown?

To quote a lyric in Frank Sinatra’s September Song; “Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September.”

When the calendar turned to September on Thursday, it marked the final month of baseball’s regular season. So the days are definitely growing short for the Chicago White Sox to catch the first-place Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

Luckily for the Pale Hose, the two rivals will hook-up for a three-game series this weekend at Detroit’s Comerica Park and another three-game set later this month at Chicago’s Cellular Field.

Another lucky break for Ozzie Guillen’s squad occurred when the Tigers dropped Thursday’s finale of a four-game series against the Royals, 11-8. The loss left the White Sox 5 ½-games behind the Tigers, but just four back in the loss column.

Unfortunately for the ChiSox, they must face Detroit ace right-hander Justin Verlander (20-5, 2.38 ERA) in Friday night’s opener. The White Sox are 1-8 against the last nine times they have faced Verlander and 2-7 the last nine games they have played at Comerica Park.

Most offshore sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have opened the Tigers as hefty $2.00 home favorites, with the total set at seven ‘over’ (minus $1.20).

Friday’s contest will be the only game of the three-game set that won’t be nationally televised. Fox Sports will broadcast Saturday’s matinee matchup, while ESPN2 will make the series finale its Sunday night feature.

Verlander is on a personal eight-game winning streak, which included a 5-4 victory on July 26 against the White Sox as a $1.40 road favorite. The flame-throwing righty allowed four runs on seven hits through eight innings spanning 125 pitches. He walked one and fanned seven.

Ironically, the last time Verlander lost was an 8-2 setback against this Pale Hose squad on July 15 as a hefty $1.90 home favorite. Verlander was tagged for five runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked two and had six strikeouts during a 110-pitch effort.

That was Verlander’s lone loss against the White Sox this season, as he registered wins of 9-3 and 4-2 on April 22 and June 4 respectively.

The 28-year-old Virginia native is 9-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 12 home starts, with the ‘under’ going 8-4. The Tigers are 21-8 in Verlander’s 29 starts this season.

Chicago will counter with John Danks (6-9, 3.63 ERA), who is coming off his best performance of the season. The 26-year-old southpaw tossed a complete-game three-hit shutout against the Seattle Mariners last Saturday as a small road underdog. Danks walked just one and fanned a season-high 10 batters during a 120-pitch effort.

Danks has split two starts against the Tigers, with both outings dipping well ‘under’ the closing total. In fact, the ‘under’ has gone 9-1-1 in Danks’ last 11 overall starting assignments.

The first start (April 24) saw Danks suffer a 3-0 setback as a $1.10 road underdog. He yielded all three runs on nine hits in six innings spanning 113 pitches. He walked two and fanned eight.

Danks got his revenge against the Tigers on July 27 when he registered a 2-1 victory as a $1.10 home favorite. He limited the Tigers to just one run on six hits in six innings spanning 116 pitches. Danks walked three and fanned 10.

Pitching on the road has not been one of Danks’ strong suits, evidenced by his 2-6 record and 4.27 ERA in 10 starts away from home. Conversely, he is 4-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 12 home starts.

Chicago is a nifty 37-29 in enemy territory, 48-47 against right-handed starters, 20-18 in one-run games and 6-10 in extra innings.

Detroit is 39-29 at Comerica Park, 26-18 against southpaw starters, 23-15 in one-run affairs and 4-3 in extra innings. Though the Tigers are 13 games above .500, they have outscored the opposition by just three runs (622-619).

The ‘under’ is 37-27-2 in Chicago’s first 66 road encounters, while the ‘over’ is 31-30-6 in Detroit’s first 67 home outings.

Both clubs will be missing a slugging outfielder. The White Sox will be without Carlos Quentin (shoulder), while Detroit’s Brennan Boesch is “out” with a thumb injury.

Detroit has captured seven of the first 12 series meetings against the White Sox, with the ‘over’ going 6-5-1.

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