Tigers pounce on White Sox early with big sticks

Tigers pounce on White Sox early with big sticks

Tigers pounce on White Sox early with big sticks

CHICAGO -- If you'd only look at the results, you'd hardly be able to tell the Tigers have played the last two nights without what their manager calls the best hitter on the planet.

Indeed, Detroit has been without Miguel Cabrera since he aggravated a nagging left hip flexor midway through Monday night's game against the White Sox.

No offense to the reigning Triple Crown winner and American League MVP, but the club hasn't missed him much.

For the third night in a row, the Tigers hammered the lowly White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, this time by a comfortable 6-2 margin. Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter each homered off Chicago's John Danks to provide Anibal Sanchez all the run support he needed.

"We have to give it all," Sanchez said. "With Miggy out, I know the situation that he's got and we need to play. We need him in the end, and he's a big piece of the lineup, but we need to play hard without him."

Detroit has had no trouble this week against its division rival, which has committed eight errors in three Tigers wins. The Tigers have won 13 of their last 19, and 10 of their last 13 on the road. Against the White Sox, they've won 13 of 17.

"All the guys are chipping in a little bit," manager Jim Leyland said. "We had a pretty good game."

Chicago's best chance against Sanchez came in the fifth, when catcher Josh Phegley singled with one out and Alejandro De Aza followed with a double to the right-field corner. But Alexei Ramirez grounded out to second and Alex Rios flied out to center to end the threat.

Sanchez otherwise had very little trouble, striking out five and walking just one. In his first career start at U.S. Cellular Field, he lowered his career ERA against the AL Central (16 starts) to 2.08 and his ERA this year to 2.68.

As a group, the Tigers' three starters this series (Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Sanchez) have surrendered two earned runs in 21 innings, good for a 0.86 ERA. Former MVP Justin Verlander will start Thursday's finale.

"We've got a pretty good rotation," Sanchez said. "Tomorrow, we've got the ace on the mound, we've got Verlander. All we want is to do the best job we can every day."

Danks, meanwhile, was in trouble from the get-go. In the first inning, he gave up a leadoff single to Jackson before Hunter reached on a fielder's choice and Matt Tuiasosopo -- batting in the third spot, normally reserved for Cabrera -- walked. Fielder drove the second pitch he saw from Danks 409 feet into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.

"The way they score without him in there, you don't like to think you'd like to have him back in there, but they'd obviously be more potent with him in there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

Jackson -- now 12-for-29 with three homers in his career against Danks -- hit a solo shot in the second before Hunter hit a solo homer in the fifth. Alex Avila made it 6-0 with an RBI single in the sixth. It was just Avila's second hit in 40 at-bats against lefties this year.

Bruce Rondon allowed his second run in three games when he surrendered two singles and a walk in the seventh. Drew Smyly pitched a scoreless eighth, his first appearance of the series. Luke Putkonen gave up a homer to Dayan Viciedo in the ninth, before Joaquin Benoit recorded the final two outs.

"We've got to start getting through that inning without having to use [Benoit] all the time," Leyland said. "We just have to do that. Because if we don't, we're not going to have a closer before it's over with. We've got to get some more guys to get some outs. With five-, six-run leads in the ninth, we've got to have guys get some outs without using Benoit. That's just as simple as it is."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.