White Sox facing important stretch vs. AL Central

Club takes on division opponents in 12 of its next 15 games

White Sox facing important stretch vs. AL Central

DETROIT -- A seven-game White Sox losing streak came to an end Tuesday night against the Mets at Citi Field, and it was followed by a six-series losing streak concluding in 13 innings on Wednesday afternoon.

But those skids didn't disappear quietly, as much as the White Sox changed momentum with a four-run comeback and then Matt Albers' hitting heroics backing up eight scoreless innings of relief. Now the South Siders need to build on that success against the American League Central. They entered Comerica Park on Friday with a 9-9 record against division opponents, but they are 2-8 over their last 10 games, which came against the Royals and Indians. Twelve of the White Sox next 15 games will come against the AL Central.

"These guys know you as well as anybody and you know them as well as anybody," White Sox leadoff man and right fielder Adam Eaton said. "It's definitely more difficult to take ones from divisional opponents. But we need to do that. We didn't do that in Kansas City."

"The same guys who had a rough week last week come back in and nail it down for you," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of the momentum change coming into Detroit. "That's how you start rebuilding that confidence to be able to go in and win games, because we are going to have to have a lead, and we're going to have to hold it."

White Sox relievers had posted a 3-7 record and a 4.73 ERA over their previous 20 games entering Friday, with three saves in 10 chances during that stretch. They were 2-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 26 May games, compared to 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA over 24 games in April.

Their scoreless-innings streak sat at 13 after the Mets series, following up a disastrous three-game run in Kansas City where they blew three leads -- including a 7-1 advantage in the ninth last Saturday -- and gave up 14 runs over 6 1/3 innings. The White Sox need bullpen consistency against any opponent, let alone within the division.

According to Zach Putnam, who began this series with a scoreless streak covering seven appearances and 8 2/3 innings, the opponent they faced from Kansas City last weekend contributed to the problem.

"From my experience, they are probably one of, if not the only team in the league, that really can do that to you," Putnam said. "They just don't give away at-bats.

"They just don't, down six runs with one out in the ninth against one of the best closers in baseball, or whether they are winning a game. They never give away at-bats. I give them a ton of credit.

"Regretfully so, but a ton of credit for the way they played [last] weekend," Putnam said. "They never gave up, ever, even when they were down to their final strike, final out. It was crazy to watch. I've never seen anything like it."

Kansas City comes to Chicago for three games next weekend, after an Interleague visit from the Nationals and what the White Sox hope is greater division success during their first meeting with the Tigers this season.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.