Gary Sheffield is expected to return to the Tigers' lineup after missing over two weeks, rejoining Magglio Ordonez in the middle of the order for the decisive game of a three-game series with the White Sox on Thursday.
Sheffield (right shoulder) will play for the first time since Aug. 21. He returned to Detroit on Tuesday, and said this is the best his shoulder has felt since he jammed it on a play in the outfield in July.
"If he can hit, he's going to be in the lineup," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told the team's official Web site. "You can take that to the bank."
Sheffield will likely be the designated hitter and bat a spot ahead of Ordonez, the Tigers' cleanup hitter. Ordonez, an MVP candidate, didn't start as Detroit (74-65) beat Chicago 2-1 in 11 innings on Wednesday night.
Ordonez was held out of the lineup so he could rest a sore heel, but came in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and went 0-for-1 with a walk. He is expected to start Thursday.
Ordonez leads the team with 26 home runs and 120 RBIs, and Sheffield is second with 24 homers in 430 at-bats. They lead a Tigers team that is second in the majors with 763 runs.
Detroit, though, has scored a total of just three runs in the first two games of this series.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Detroit -140 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit -140 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
The Tigers did get a clutch hit Wednesday, as Timo Perez's RBI single with two outs in the 11th inning helped them remain seven games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central and 3 1/2 back of the New York Yankees in the wild-card race.
Detroit will now face White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (9-9, 3.47 ERA), who will be trying to reach double digits in wins for the seventh straight season. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 6.28 ERA in two starts against the Tigers this season, but is 12-8 with a 3.23 ERA in 22 starts and one relief appearance lifetime against them.
Ordonez is 12-for-19 (.632) with two home runs and a double against Buehrle.
Buehrle has been strong on the road, going 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 12 starts. His last outing was at Cleveland, allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings of an 8-5 loss on Friday night.
The Tigers will counter with Chad Durbin (8-6, 4.76 ERA) , who is being moved into the rotation after rookie right-hander Jair Jurrjens (shoulder) was placed on the disabled list.
Durbin is 6-6 with a 4.89 ERA in 17 starts. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against the White Sox (59-80) this season, but is 2-6 with an 8.76 ERA in 11 career starts against them.
Durbin will be facing a White Sox lineup that has been terrible, scoring three runs or less in nine of their last 13 games. Chicago had just four hits Wednesday.
"We won't win too many games with four hits," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Chicago right fielder Jermaine Dye missed Wednesday's game and is day-to-day after injuring his left groin in a 3-1 win in the series opener Tuesday. Dye is second on the White Sox with 26 home runs.
by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us
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