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updated: 9/1/2011 10:32 PM

Big weekend ahead for White Sox

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  • First up for the White Sox in their big series at Detroit with be facing Justin Verlander, who already has 20 wins.

      First up for the White Sox in their big series at Detroit with be facing Justin Verlander, who already has 20 wins.
    Associated Press

 
 

Now that's what you call a good day off.

As the White Sox regrouped from a tough loss to the Minnesota Twins the day before, they gained some needed ground in the AL Central standings Thursday.

The first-place Tigers lost, and so did the second-place Indians.

As they head into Detroit on Friday night for a critical three-game series, the Sox are 5 games off the pace and tied for second with Cleveland.

Time is running out, though, and the White Sox need to make a move this weekend with only 28 games remaining on the schedule.

Is it sweep or else?

"We've got to go in there and win three, that's how I look at it," said starting pitcher Jake Peavy. "A month to play, I mean obviously two out of three is going to help.

"At some point in time, in these next three or when the Tigers come here, we have to beat them three games to have a chance to climb back in it."

Detroit plays three games at U.S. Cellular Field later in the month, but the Sox don't have the luxury of looking ahead.

"I'm not going to go out there, 'Wow, we're going to sweep them,'" manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Start talking (crud) without commitment.

"They're setting it up with the best pitcher they have (Justin Verlander). I think we're going to face the best pitcher in the game right now.

"Just hopefully we don't get swept in Detroit. If we don't get swept in Detroit, we're still hanging in there."

Guillen obviously was trying to take the pressure off the White Sox, but the calendar doesn't lie.

While beating Verlander on Friday night is going to be a huge challenge, the Sox did stick the Cy Young Award favorite with a loss in the first game after the all-star break.

They scored 5 runs (4 earned) in 6 innings off Verlander at Comerica Park on July 15, so anything is possible.

"We have to battle and try to get on base and do little things and hit balls when he leaves them over the plate," Brent Lillibridge said. "He's tough. He's a No. 1.

"If we can steal 1 win from him this month, that's what we have to do. It starts there. Just win the first game and hopefully win the series and that's what we have to do, win a series, and a sweep will be better."

Beating Verlander is an imposing challenge for the White Sox, but the Tigers figure to have their hands full with his mound opponent -- John Danks.

Remember when Danks was 0-8 with a 5.25 ERA after his first 11 starts? Over his last 11, the White Sox left-hander is 6-1 with a 2.03 ERA.

"I know I can pretty much take anything in this game," Danks said of his disastrous first half of the season. "That was the worst stretch in my baseball career, even looking back on Little League. I've never been through anything like that.

"I think I can pretty much take anything that kind of gets thrown at me. It's definitely something that builds strength, I guess, is the way to put it. Confidence, strength. I know I can take a shot to the face for two months and bounce back."

Can Danks hang with Verlander?

"Man, you know you have to be good," Danks said. "He's been the best pitcher in baseball this year, there's no doubt. It'll be good. These are important games. If we go up there and play well, I think it'll be tight to the end.

"God forbid we go up there and lay an egg. That could be the end. Go up there and try to play well. We're playing pretty good baseball right now. We usually play them pretty well."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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