The Chicago White Sox clinched the American League Central but manager Tony La Russa wants his team maintain its edge.
La Russa gets a prime opportunity to make that judgment on Monday when the White Sox visit the Detroit Tigers in a makeup contest.
Chicago was just in Detroit for three games last week but Wednesday’s game was rained out. That prompted the loss of a day off and the prolonging of an 11-game road trip with a return to the Motor City.
The White Sox (88-68) have split the first 10 games of the excursion but the play hasn’t always been pretty. Saturday’s 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians included some lackluster play that infuriated La Russa.
Prior to Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Indians, La Russa and some members of his coaching staff met with some players to discuss the situation.
“Once in a while, you are going to have a game you need to address, and (the players) addressed it really well,” La Russa said of the much crisper effort.
It makes sense that La Russa wants to get his troops clicking on all cylinders during a final week that includes two home games against the Cincinnati Reds and three with the Tigers. The White Sox were 54-35 prior to the All-Star break and are just 34-33 since.
Chicago is 9-6 against Detroit this season but the Tigers have won the past four meetings.
That includes two victories last week prior to the rainout.
Detroit (75-80) lost 2-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday but has still won 10 of its past 15 games.
The Tigers need to win six of their final seven games to avoid a sixth straight losing campaign.
Detroit will be playing the rest of the season without outfielder Victor Reyes after he sustained a groin injury during Saturday’s win over the Royals.
“We’ll see how significant it is,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “But it’s significant enough where he can’t make it back.
“I feel bad for Victor. He really played well at the end and was starting to push into more and more playing time. He still capped a nice comeback year based on how he started.”
The 26-year-old Reyes was batting .258 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 76 games. But he batted .333 (35-for-105) over August and September. He had eight hits in 13 at-bats over his final four games.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (8-9, 5.18 ERA) will be on the mound for the White Sox. He is 0-3 over his last six starts with an unsightly 8.77 ERA.
Keuchel received a no-decision against the Tigers last Tuesday when he allowed two runs and 11 hits over five innings.
The 33-year-old is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in three 2021 starts against Detroit. Overall, Keuchel is 4-4 with a 4.52 in 12 career appearances (11 starts) against the Tigers.
Jonathan Schoop is 8-for-20 with two homers versus Keuchel, while Jeimer Candelario is 5-for-14. Miguel Cabrera is 5-for-22 with a homer.
Right-hander Matt Manning (4-6, 5.73) will start for the Tigers.
The 23-year-old rookie received a no-decision against the White Sox on Sept. 20. He gave up three runs and four hits over five innings.
Manning has a 5.87 ERA in two starts against Chicago. He has allowed 11 hits and walked four in just 7 2/3 innings.
Tim Anderson is 3-for-5 against Manning.
–Field Level Media