The Chicago White Sox are about to begin a pivotal weekend series in Detroit. There should be little difficulty finding motivation at the end of their 10-game road trip.
The White Sox limp into town having dropped three of four to the Red Sox, punctuated by a deflating 3-1 loss in Fenway Park Thursday night. A great outing by Jose Quintana went for naught as Cody Ross crushed a three-run walk-off homer off Addison Reed.
The blast was a brutal going away gift from Boston and sets up a showdown between the White Sox and their closest competitor in the AL Central. The Tigers trail Chicago by just a game-and-a-half.
The White Sox have split eight games with Detroit this year. They dropped two of three in Comerica Park back in early May. The surging Tigers have won eight of their last 10 games, including three out of four against the Angels.
Jake Peavy and Justin Verlander get the series started Friday night. Chris Sale squares off against Rick Porcello Saturday while Phillip Humber faces top Tigers prospect Jacob Turner.
Turner is making his third career start in the series finale, while Humber threw well in his return from the DL Tuesday, picking up Chicago's only win in Boston. The White Sox would seem to have the upper hand in two of the three pitching matchups, but Porcello has beaten Chicago twice in two starts in 2012.
Reliever Jesse Crain may be back in service this weekend, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Kevin Youkilis, who sat out Thursday's game with a tight hamstring, is also expected to be in the lineup for the White Sox.
This weekend may be Chicago's biggest series to this point in the season. Detroit, the favorites to win the division before the season started, is beginning their push and would love to take over first place.
Taking two of three games would not only stave off Detroit for the time being, it would help allow the White Sox to break even on the road trip.