Tigers need Porcello to claw back

One of the closest races in baseball is in the AL Central as the top two teams kick off a four-game series tonight.

The Detroit Tigers trail the Chicago White Sox by two games and could pull even in the division race with three wins. The stakes are even higher because it’s the final time the two teams go head-to-head this season.

Both teams enter this series looking like neither wants to win the division. The White Sox hit their high-water mark on August 26 when they improved to 71-55, and the Tigers also peaked on that day with a 69-58 record after beating the Los Angeles Angels.

Tigers vs White Sox This Season

Since that date, both teams have hit the skids, with the Tigers losing eight of 12 games and the White Sox dropping nine of 13 in that span.

The only MLB team with a worse record than the Tigers and White Sox starting on August 27 is the Boston Red Sox (2-11).

The Tigers lead the season series 10-4 and have won the last seven meetings. That is the longest single-season win streak by the Tigers over the White Sox since they won eight in a row in 1936.

However, the Tigers have failed to capitalize on their success against their rival. Each time the Tigers won a series with the Pale Hose this year, they have followed it up with a prolonged stretch of losses.

• May 4-6: won 2-of-3 games vs Chicago.. then lost 11 of their next 17 games

• July 20-22: swept White Sox.. then lost six of their next eight games

• August 31-September 2: swept White Sox.. then lost five of their next six games leading into this current series

Monday’s matchup

Rick Porcello has not been a winning ticket for the Tigers this past month, as the team has lost his last five starts, during which he is 0-5 with a 4.40 ERA.

However, he’s had a lot of success against the White Sox recently, going 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in his last six starts against them. His streak of six straight undefeated starts allowing three runs or fewer in each is tied for the second-longest by a Tigers pitcher vs the White Sox in the Live Ball Era. Only Justin Verlander (7) has a longer streak.

Jose Quintana was one of the White Sox best starters in the first three-plus months of the season, with a 4-1 record and 2.53 ERA in his first 10 starts through mid-July. However, fatigue seems to have set in for the rookie, as he owns a 5.84 ERA with only one win in his last eight outings.

His slider has been really hittable in his last eight starts. Opponents have a .326 batting average and .844 OPS in at-bats ending in a slider since the third week of July, after he held them to a .176/.208/.230 line with the pitch to start the season.