<
>

Series preview: Tigers at White Sox

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's pitching scramble will continue in a brief two-game series against the Detroit Tigers that starts Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Jose Quintana will look to rebound from consecutive sluggish starts as he encounters a tough matchup with Justin Verlander. The White Sox could have avoided the Cy Young Award winner, but a rainout Sunday in Minnesota pushed Verlander into a start on Tuesday.

On Wednesday is where things get interesting. The White Sox have listed newly-acquired reliever Hector Noesi as the starter in the series finale against reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

That would be the same Noesi the White Sox claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers last week. And why was he available for the picking? Noesi was the Rangers pitcher on April 20 that gave up seven runs to the White Sox in a single inning.

While using that same reliever to start a game against a team like the Tigers seems like an act of desperation, starting isn't a foreign concept to Noesi. Of his 112 minor league appearances, 88 were starts, and if he sticks around, the White Sox are entertaining the idea of moving him back to a starting role in the future.

Of course, what makes a gamble like that doable is the fact that the White Sox's offense continues to roll. Heading into Tuesday night's game, the White Sox have averaged a major league-best 5.56 runs per game. They are also leading the American League in OPS (.775) and are tied for first in doubles (52). They are second in home runs (32), slugging percentage (.438) and batting average (.273).

Leading the charge is rookie sensation Jose Abreu, who leads baseball in home runs (10) and RBIs (32), while topping the American League in slugging percentage (.626) and extra-base hits (17).

So after 27 games, where do Abreu's numbers project? How about a whopping 60 home runs and 192 RBIs.

HEAD TO HEAD

Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza and Paul Konerko all have at least 23 at-bats against Verlander and none of them has a batting average higher than .194 against the right-hander. ... In just three at-bats against Verlander, Abreu has two hits, including a home run ... Dayan Viciedo is 8-for-22 (.364) against Max Scherzer with two home runs, but Alexei Ramirez is 4-for-33 (.091) against the right-hander. ... Rajai Davis has the most at-bats against Quintana than anybody on the Tigers with 17. He has delivered eight hits against the left-hander, good for a .471 batting average.

NOTES

The White Sox are 8-1 this season when scoring seven or more runs. ... The struggling bullpen is starting to find its legs with a 2.31 ERA over their last 10 games (35 innings). The bullpen was not scored upon in six of those 10 games. ... The White Sox are batting .294 with 60 runs scored over their past nine games. Ramirez has 38 hits, one away from Paul Konerko's franchise record for March/April. Konerko registered his feat in 2002. ... Abreu needs one RBI in the next two games to match Robin Ventura's monthly best of 33 in a White Sox uniform, set in July of 1991. Harold Baines has the highest mark in any month for the White Sox with 36 in June, 1987. ... Nine of the Tigers' 12 victories have been in come-from-behind fashion, tied for most in the major leagues with the New York Mets. ... The Tigers have won 23 of the last 34 games against the White Sox, going back to May 15, 2012. Over that stretch, the Tigers have outscored the White Sox 171-137.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Tuesday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (1-2, 3.90) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (3-1, 2.18), 7:10 p.m.

Wednesday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (0-1, 11.74) vs. Tigers RH Max Scherzer (2-1, 2.45), 1:10 p.m.