The Detroit Tigers have become the team everyone involved in the American League Central Division pennant race wants to play.
The Tigers were swept in three games by first-place Cleveland earlier this week. The third-place Chicago White Sox have taken the first two games of their weekend series against the visiting, last-place Tigers.
Chicago will look to complete the sweep on Sunday afternoon.
The White Sox, who lost three of four at Kansas City before Detroit’s visit, had 14 hits in their 6-4 victory on Saturday.
A handful of players had multi-hit games, including Andrew Vaughn, who supplied three hits and drove in the go-ahead run. Leadoff man AJ Pollock hit his sixth homer, scored twice and drove in two runs, and Leury Garcia also scored twice and drove in a run.
Closer Liam Hendriks collected saves in the first two games of the series and likely will be unavailable on Sunday.
Outfielder Luis Robert sat out Saturday’s game due to a left-wrist sprain that he suffered in Friday’s series opener. The White Sox already are playing without shortstop Tim Anderson, who underwent hand surgery this week.
“We got a lot of practice over two years (dealing with injuries), and it’s a collective thing,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Players know it’s part of the game. Games still count. You concentrate on what you have, not what you’re missing.”
The long ball has been an issue for White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn (2-5, 5.88 ERA), who will start Sunday’s game. He has given up nine home runs in his past five starts. He gave up two on Tuesday as Kansas City scored four runs off of him in six innings.
“Two pitches cost me four runs,” Lynn said.
Lynn faced Detroit in his season debut on June 13 and allowed three runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings but got the win. He’s 6-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 10 career starts against the Tigers.
He’ll be opposed by Detroit left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-6, 3.83), who has lost his past three starts despite giving up two earned runs each time. He lasted a season-high seven innings against Cleveland on Tuesday, allowing seven hits and no walks in a 5-2 loss.
“He’s a valuable pitcher,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “His approach to the game, his ‘beat me over the plate’ mentality is really good. He’ll have a day where he sprays it, but not many.”
Against the Guardians, he had a 71 percent strike rate, though he only recorded two strikeouts.
“All of those first-pitch strikes were four-seamers,” Alexander said. “Maybe they were sitting soft early in the count because that’s what I typically throw. But I got a lot of first-pitch strikes with the four-seam. I have a plan. I wasn’t trying to get strikeouts — which I never do, obviously. But I was getting ahead in the count, and it kept my pitch-count down and I got through seven innings.”
Alexander is 1-4 with a 4.62 ERA against the White Sox over 16 appearances, including seven starts.
Detroit carries a six-game losing streak into the series finale. One bright spot on Saturday was Kerry Carpenter’s first major league hit, which came off Hendriks. Called up Wednesday, Carpenter was 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts to start his MLB career.
“Probably feels like he belongs a little bit more now than he did coming into the game,” Hinch said. “You want to do something, so it’s a special moment for him.”
–Field Level Media