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Tigers, White Sox continue battle for AL Central title

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The Sports Network
9/29/2012 11:21:03 AM
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(Sports Network) - Justin Verlander aims to win his fourth straight start and bring the Detroit Tigers closer to the AL Central title Saturday afternoon in the continuation of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.

The Tigers, who suffered a 4-2 loss last night, enter the day clinging to a one-game lead over the Chicago White Sox.

Verlander has lost just once in his last 10 starts, with that defeat coming on the road against the Angels Sept. 8. The right-hander, who leads the majors with 231 strikeouts, has given up just two runs over his last three starts. He's 11-7 with a 3.37 ERA lifetime against the Twins.

P.J. Walters, who will make his 12th start of 2012, is 0-3 over his last eight appearances. The right-hander is coming off a no-decision at Detroit on Sunday. He's 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA in four games (3 starts) versus the Tigers.

The teams have split 16 matchups this season.

Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox

(Sports Network) - Chris Sale eyes his 18th win, but more importantly tries to keep the Chicago White Sox's postseason hopes alive on Saturday when they continue a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale has failed to get that win his last two times out and did not get a decision against Cleveland on Monday, as he surrendered three runs and 10 hits in seven innings, dropping him to 17-7 to go along with a 2.86 ERA.

The 23-year-old lefty beat the Rays earlier in the year in his only other start against them and has pitched to a 1.86 ERA in three appearances against them.

Getting the call for the Rays on Saturday will be 23-year-old lefty Matt Moore, who has lost his last four decisions. Moore did not get a decision last Saturday against Toronto, as he allowed two runs and three hits with two walks in just two innings.

"He just didn't have it tonight," Maddon said. "Earlier in the season, you can be a little more patient, but you can't be as patient right now. I just did not see him fixing himself tonight."

Moore, who is 10-11 with a 3.92 ERA on the year, has now had three straight outings of four innings or less.

Moore lost to Sale and the White Sox earlier in the season.

Chicago swept an early-season series against the Rays from May 28-30 and has won seven of the past 11 matchups between the two clubs.

Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics try to beat the Seattle Mariners for the sixth straight time on Saturday when they continue a three-game series at the Coliseum.

Oakland continued its recent mastery of the Mariners in Friday's opener, as Coco Crisp finished a triple shy of the cycle and scored three times, helping the A's to an 8-2 win.

Oakland also moved within three games of Texas for the top spot in the AL West after the Rangers fell to the Angels on Friday.

Heading to the hill for the A's on Saturday will be hard-throwing righty Dan Straily, who is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA. Straily did not get a decision on Monday in Texas, but pitched well, allowing two runs (1 earned) and five hits with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings and left with a two-run lead.

Straily has never faced the Mariners, who will hand the ball to lefty Jason Vargas.

Vargas lost his second consecutive decision on Sunday against the Rangers, as he surrendered three runs and eight hits in six innings. He has just one win in his last seven starts, but is 14-11 on the year with a 3.94 ERA.

The A's lead the season series with Seattle, 10-7, and have won seven of the last eight matchups between the teams.

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

(Sports Network) - It's almost certain that the Texas Rangers are going to reach the postseason. But, nailing down that spot hasn't been so easy.

On Saturday, the Rangers hope to secure their third straight playoff appearance when they play the middle test of a three-game series against the surging Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers still hold a three-game lead on the A's in the division, but can clinch at least a wild card spot with a win on Saturday.

Getting the call for the Angels on Saturday will be righty Ervin Santana, who is 9-12 with a 4.93 ERA. Santana was terrific in beating the Chicago White Sox his last time out back on Sept. 21 when he allowed a run and two hits and struck out 11 in seven innings.

Santana, who can become a free agent at season's end, has pitched to a 2.88 ERA since the start of August, but has served up a major league-high 36 home runs on the season.

Texas will hand the ball to lefty Derek Holland, who has won his last four decisions and is 11-6 with a 4.50 ERA. Holland only lasted three innings on Monday against Oakland, though, as he surrendered three runs and four hits with two walks. However, he did not factor in the decision of his team's 5-4 win.

The Angels have won nine of 17 meetings this season, but Texas has won four of its last six in the series.

Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles

(Sports Network) - Step-by-step, the Baltimore Orioles are closing in on their first playoff berth since 1997. They'll continue the quest Saturday in the second contest of a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.

Baltimore's magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three, but the Orioles have aspirations of a division title as well. They enter Saturday a game behind the New York Yankees in the American League East standings.

The Orioles will try to build on a solid pitching performance from last night when Steve Johnson makes his 12th appearance, including his fourth start, of his initial season in the majors. In his three home starts, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .200 against him at home.

Boston starter Aaron Cook (4-11) lasted just one-plus innings, allowing six runs on five hits while walking three. Alfredo Aceves gave up three runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings of relief.

Baltimore took two of three from the Red Sox last weekend and is 11-5 against them this.

Justin Verlander (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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