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updated: 6/9/2014 11:49 PM

Win over Tigers a little sweeter for Sox

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  • White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is greeted by Adam Dunn at home plate after hitting a 2-run homer against the Tigers in the fifth inning Monday night.

      White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu is greeted by Adam Dunn at home plate after hitting a 2-run homer against the Tigers in the fifth inning Monday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Cleveland Indians owned the AL Central in the 1990s, finishing first five straight seasons (1995-99).

The Minnesota Twins eventually took over, winning the division from 2002-04 and again in '06.

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Lately, the Detroit Tigers have ruled the Central roost, finishing first the last three years.

In town for a four-game series against the White Sox, the Tigers are on top of the division again, so there is little doubt this is an important stretch for a Sox team that has had sporadic success over the past few decades, topped of course by the 2005 World Series championship.

"This is a good opportunity," Paul Konerko said. "If we go out and play well and things go our way, we can show we can play with these guys, because it is their division to lose. They've won it. It'd give our guys confidence if we won the series. If we don't, that's fine, too, just keep trucking along and we'll get better as we go."

The Sox did go out and play fairly well in Monday night's opener, winning 6-5 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Jose Abreu snapped out of a 2-for-15 funk, going 2-for-4 with a 2-run homer. Conor Gillaspie also was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI, and Gordon Beckham had 3 hits and drove in a run.

Getting Abreu going again should do wonders for a White Sox offense that has been bogging down following an impressive April.

"It's been impressive," manager Robin Ventura said after Abreu upped his home run total to 18 and his RBI total to 49. "Again, I don't look at him as a normal rookie. He's played enough and is old enough (27) and is talented enough. He continues to make adjustments to what teams try to do to him."

And don't forget about new closer Ronald Belisario, who did allow 1 run in the ninth inning but avoided further damage that could have been caused by misplays from Moises Sierra in right field and Alejandro De Aza in left.

"He's been throwing great," Ventura said after Belisario nailed down his sixth save in nine opportunities. "We catch a couple balls and that inning looks a lot different."

The Tigers (33-27) didn't play very well, making 3 errors and getting a poor start from Rick Porcello, who allowed 6 runs (5 earned) in 5 innings. With the win, the Sox (32-33) are 3 games off the lead in the AL Central.

"It's important, especially against the team leading the division," said leadoff man Adam Eaton, who was 2-for-5 with a triple, 1 RBI and a nice running catch in center field. "It's a good day."

It was, but what does it all really mean?

Even if the White Sox sweep the Tigers, general manager Rick Hahn is going to be far from convinced this is a playoff-caliber team.

"I don't think we've gotten to the point where we're trying to convince ourselves of anything," Hahn said. "I think we're at the point still of making sure we have a firm grasp of our positives and our negatives and what potential holes we have and what potential internal options we may have to plug those holes, whether it's guys starting to get a little better and come back off the DL or potential trade opportunities.

"We're still not at the point where we can make any declarations publicly about whether we're a contender or not. We're certainly pleased with a lot of what has happened over the last few months, but in terms of the results we still have a ways to go to get to where we want to be."

Over the course of a 162-game season, teams rarely get excited about anything, especially in early June. But a win over the Tigers in the series opener is certainly better than a loss.

"The fact it happens to be Detroit gives us a barometer against a team that's been the class of our division and more or less the class of the league for the last couple of seasons," Hahn said.

"So it's a nice barometer about where we're at, but regardless of who the opponent is right now, we need to start playing baseball more similar to what we playing in the early part of the year."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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