There's still a couple weeks left to play, but to the Detroit Tigers, Thursday's matchup against the Chicago White Sox is the most important one remaining. That may change down the line depending on how things play out, but the Tigers presently trail the White Sox by a single game in the AL Central division, and have just taken two-straight from them.
Thursday will be the finale of the four-game series and the final meeting between these two clubs in the regular season. Justin Verlander will take the mound for Detroit, and he'll be up against Chris Sale for the White Sox. Verlander bested Sale the last time they faced off, and sports a 12-8 record with a 2.91 ERA. He also boasts 212 strikeouts against just 54 walks.
But Sale hasn't lost at U.S. Cellular Field in four months, and boasts better stats with a 16-6 record, 2.88 ERA and 168 strikeouts against 44 walks this season. Detroit got big games out of Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch when Verlander got the better of Sale on Sept. 2 at Comerica Park, and they'll likely need something like that again. Prince Fielder, who hit a three-run homerun in an 8-6 win on Wednesday, is another likely candidate to boost the Tigers to a win.
Chicago hasn't picked up a win over Verlander since July 15, 2011, while Sale has never claimed victory over the AL Central rivals. His 8-0 mark with a 1.20 ERA in his last nine home starts has to give him the confidence he's looking for though. The game is set for 8:10 p.m. eastern on Thursday.