LIVE: Konerko, Ramirez RBIs give Sox lead

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LIVE: Konerko, Ramirez RBIs give Sox lead

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Posted: 9:51 a.m.

Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers aren't just cruising toward their first division championship since 1987. They're steaming toward that title with one of their longest win streaks in team history.

The Tigers will try to move a step closer to clinching the AL Central by winning 12 in a row for the first time since 1934 on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.

Detroit (86-62) reduced its magic number to four with a 5-0 win in Chicago on Tuesday, its 21st in 25 games. That victory marked the first time the Tigers had won 11 straight since Sept. 9-21, 1968, a season that ended with a World Series championship.

Detroit has produced at the plate and on the mound during its streak, batting .334 and averaging more than eight runs while posting a 2.36 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera is hitting .390 with 12 RBIs during the run, while Victor Martinez has driven in 17 in Detroit's last nine games.

"You look at the talent around this room, if everybody gets rolling it's going to be tough to beat us," pitcher Justin Verlander said after earning his MLB-best 23rd win Tuesday. "This last couple of weeks, it's been an example of that."

The Tigers haven't won 12 straight since a team record-tying 14-game run July 31-Aug. 14, 1934, but Brad Penny (10-10, 5.19 ERA) may not be the best candidate to help his team accomplish that feat.

The right-hander is 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA over his last nine starts and has allowed 19 runs - 15 earned - over 15 innings in his last three outings. Penny, however, got the win in an 8-4 victory over Minnesota on Friday after allowing four runs over five innings.

"(My teammates are) going to score a lot of runs," Penny said. "If you can keep them somewhat close, you've got a chance to win."

The Tigers have won all four of Penny's starts against the White Sox (73-74) this season, and he's 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA. However, he gave up eight runs - four earned - and 10 hits over five innings in the most recent matchup Sept. 3 and avoided a loss only when Detroit pulled off a stunning rally for a 9-8 victory.

The Tigers have won 20 of 26 over the White Sox, outscoring them 54-15 in five consecutive wins this month. They've also won 10 of 13 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Detroit will try to add to that success by spoiling the first career start for Dylan Axelrod (0-0, 0.00). The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings in relief against Minnesota in his major league debut last Wednesday.

"I'm definitely excited to get that chance. I want to go out there and see what I can do," Axelrod told the White Sox's official website. "It should be great."

Axelrod was 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A Charlotte before being recalled last week.

Alex Rios will try to help his rookie teammate by continuing his success against Penny. The outfielder is 13 for 21 with five doubles versus the right-hander in his career and 4 for 9 with one double this season.

Cabrera is batting .381 this season against the White Sox and is 9 for 20 with five doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in the past five matchups.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Preview: Quintana takes the hill as White Sox face Twins on CSN

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Preview: Quintana takes the hill as White Sox face Twins on CSN

The White Sox take on the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana vs. Ervin Santana

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

White Sox Top Prospects: Alex Call thriving at the plate

White Sox Top Prospects: Alex Call thriving at the plate

Alex Call is picking up right where he left off from college.

The White Sox 2016 third round pick has continued to swing the bat extremely well in the first couple months of his professional career.

In three seasons at Ball State, Call had 19 homers and 119 RBI, while batting .351/.425./.530. 

In two levels with the White Sox, Call is hitting .315/.407/.452 with six homers and 31 RBI.

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The 21-year-old played 27 games with Rookie Affiliate Great Falls before getting promoted to Class-A Kannapolis.

In 41 games with Kannapolis, Call's .319 batting average ranks second on the team and his .460 slugging percentage leads the Intimidators.

Alex Avila gets best of former teammate Justin Verlander, homers in White Sox loss

Alex Avila gets best of former teammate Justin Verlander, homers in White Sox loss

DETROIT -- Things might be a little awkward between Alex Avila and Justin Verlander.

The two former teammates faced off on Wednesday afternoon for only the second time ever and Avila didn’t treat the Tigers’ ace too kindly.

Avila, who caught Verlander for six seasons, ripped a 435-foot solo homer to dead center in the fourth inning, but the White Sox still lost to the Detroit Tigers 3-2.

Avila is now 2-for-5 with a walk in two games against Verlander. They also faced each other on June 5.

“I know I’m going to be hearing about it,” Verlander told Detroit reporters. “I think I’m going to ask him back for one of the watches I’ve gifted him. It’s only fair, I think.”

Avila and Verlander have shared a ton of memories over the years.

Avila was Verlander’s primary catcher from 2010-2015. He caught him 116 times, including in 33 of 34 starts when Verlander won his only Cy Young Award and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Verlander had a 3.10 ERA with Avila behind the plate, including a 2.35 in 2011.

Avila hit against Verlander three times on Wednesday, striking out twice. He thought his old teammate looked extremely sharp as Verlander held the White Sox to two runs and three hits in seven innings. Verlander struck out nine.

“He has pitched great all year, really exposing hitters’ weaknesses with that mid-90s fastball, staying at the top of the zone with that,” Avila said. “His slider-cutter worked well for him. He’s pitching great. It’s tough to get runs off him.”

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Avila was excited to not only face Verlander, but also to catch Chris Sale. He said White Sox manager Robin Ventura told him he’d catch Wednesday’s game a few days earlier and he anticipated the game.

Verlander said he thinks the catcher has the advantage in these types of meetings.

“Alex having caught me a lot, cheated a little bit to that first pitch heater in, and that’s fine,” Verlander said. “A lot of guys do that and I just need to execute it a little better.

“It’s like he’s faced 1,000 times, so you can’t get upset because it’s an ex-teammate.”

Avila said it “felt great” to homer off Verlander, but he hadn’t yet talked to him or texted.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point,” Avila said.

Verlander figures this won’t be the only time the two square off. If Avila wants to keep hitting homers, he might think about leaving personal items at home.

“I think I’ve gave him two or three (watches),” Verlander said. “I’ll start with the least expensive one and work my way up because we face each other a lot.”