<
>

White Sox-Tigers Preview

4/3/2008

Detroit is hoping its second series this season goes a lot better than the first.

The Tigers look to become the last team in the majors to post a victory in 2008 on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park.

Detroit entered 2008 with high expectations -- and the second-highest payroll in the major leagues at $138.7 million -- but lost all three games in their season-opening series against Kansas City at Comerica. The Tigers go into Friday as the only team in the majors without a win.

They lost 4-1 on Thursday and managed just five runs in the series despite boasting one of baseball's most imposing lineups.

Brandon Inge ended Detroit's 18-inning scoreless streak with a solo homer in the seventh. The Tigers are 0-3 for the first time since 2003, when they lost their first nine games and finished with an AL-record 119 losses.

"We stunk," manager Jim Leyland said. "We look like we're just going up there and giving at-bats away without any purpose. The manager's responsible for the preparation and the performance of the club, and right now, we don't look very prepared. We just look like dead."

The Tigers, who are hitting .206 with 24 strikeouts, are already dealing with a number of key injuries. Curtis Granderson started the season on the disabled list because of a broken hand, and Miguel Cabrera, one of baseball's biggest offseason acquisitions, missed Thursday's game and is day-to-day with a quadriceps strain.

Making matters worse, designated hitter Gary Sheffield tore a tendon in his left ring finger on a play at second in the eighth inning Thursday.

"He would have not been able to hit if we came around to him in the ninth," Leyland said. "I don't know how serious it was, but he couldn't bend it."

Sheffield says he will try to play through the injury, but he wouldn't know his status until the swelling subsided.

Detroit will be trying to bounce back against a White Sox team that won 11 of 18 meetings last season, including six of nine at Comerica.

Chicago notched its first win of the season on Thursday, beating Cleveland 2-1 in the finale of a three-game set. The White Sox gave up 17 runs in the first two games, but starter John Danks and three relievers held the Indians to two hits.

Joe Crede and Juan Uribe both homered for Chicago.

"We expected to win at least one game this year," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

The White Sox hope Jose Contreras can follow Danks with a strong start of his own on Friday. Contreras is hoping to bounce back after going 10-17 with a 5.57 ERA and losing nine straight decisions as a starter in 2007.

Contreras is 8-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 19 career starts against the Tigers -- his most appearances against any team. However, he is 0-3 with a 10.17 ERA in his last four starts versus Detroit, including three last season.

The Tigers counter with Nate Robertson, who also had a shaky 2007. He was 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in five April starts, but struggled through a six-start stretch in which he went 1-5 with a 9.12 ERA before landing on the DL in June with left arm fatigue.

Still, Robertson finished the season 9-13 with a 4.76 ERA and signed a three-year, $21.25 million contact extension in the offseason.

Robertson won a career-best 13 games in 2006. He is 5-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 16 career starts against the White Sox, including 1-2 with a 7.18 ERA in his last four.