The Detroit Tigers will look for their third consecutive victory as they open an eight-game road trip Friday night against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
Detroit (33-37) is coming off back-to-back wins against the Minnesota Twins as it remains within striking distance of the Cleveland Indians for first place in the American League Central division. The Tigers have scored four-plus runs in four of their last seven contests.
The team’s success at the plate has come despite the loss of star slugger Miguel Cabrera, who will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his biceps tendon. The 35-year-old performed well against Chicago with a .297 lifetime average to go along with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs in 175 games.
Minus Cabrera, the Tigers are forced to rely upon less proven players such as JaCoby Jones, who belted a two-run home run on Thursday afternoon that helped his team secure a series victory. Jones is hitting only .222 this season with five home runs and 18 RBIs.
“He’s a really good baseball player,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said to the Detroit Free Press. “He brings a lot to the table. Yeah, he could get sent down sometime if he went 0-for-the-next-150, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
“I love the kid. … But ultimately, he’s going to have to dig his way out of it, and (Thursday) was a start. He hit a home run, that’s confidence — and now, hopefully, he’ll build from there.”
Chicago (24-43) also has gained confidence recently despite a difficult start to the season. The White Sox have won or split each of their past four series, including a 2-2 series tie against the Indians this week.
The White Sox will turn to right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (2-4, 3.26 ERA), who will make his 14th start of the season. The 24-year-old has posted back-to-back quality starts and earned a victory in his most recent appearance Sunday as he limited the Boston Red Sox to two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings.
In three career starts against the Tigers, Lopez is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA. He has not allowed a home run in 21 innings, but control has proved to be an issue as he has walked 10 and struck out nine during those three starts.
Lopez is enthused by the recent success of him and his teammates.
“When you as a team can do the little things and can work as a team with all the parts integrated, you will have good results,” Lopez said to the Chicago Tribune. “And that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.”
The Tigers are determined to disrupt the recent comfort level of the White Sox.
Detroit right-hander Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.01 ERA) will make his 13th start. He has not lost since May 19 against the Seattle Mariners, and he is coming off an impressive outing in which he limited Cleveland to one run on five hits in seven innings.
Fiers, 32, is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox. He has walked eight and struck out 28 in 31 1/3 innings.
Chicago is 12-21 at home this season. Detroit is 10-20 on the road.