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DETROIT — Even after his team shut down the Chicago White Sox for the first two games of the series, Detroit’s Max Scherzer took nothing for granted.
“It doesn’t matter how they’re playing, what they’re swinging like. You’ve got to come with your A-game and be ready,” Scherzer said. “You have to go out there with the mentality that you’re going to have to be on the attack.”
Scherzer was focused and prepared, allowing four hits in eight outstanding innings, and the Tigers beat Chicago 3-0 on Sunday to finish a three-game sweep of the struggling White Sox.
Scherzer (4-0) struck out seven and walked three, helping the Tigers shut out Chicago for a second straight day. The White Sox were outscored 21-3 in the series and looked overmatched against Detroit starters Justin Verlander, Brad Penny, and Scherzer.
“Justin was just absolutely overpowering. Brad had a great two-seamer going and located as well as anybody did,” Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. “Max, being able to locate with all three pitches — all three pitches working for him today — that keeps hitters off balance.”
After Penny took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Saturday, Scherzer made it to the fifth with one before allowing A.J. Pierzynski’s leadoff single. Mark Teahen, the next batter, grounded into a double play.
The White Sox have lost 10 of 11 and now must head to New York for a four-game series against the Yankees.
“Nothing works,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I’ll keep plugging guys in and hope things come around, but now every day is like rewinding a movie and watching it again.”
John Danks (0-3) allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings. He struck out eight and walked two. Danks has a 3.27 ERA, but the White Sox haven’t won any of his five starts.
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The Tigers opened the scoring in the fourth after loading the bases with nobody out. Danks struck out Casper Wells, but Avila hit a broken-bat groundball to drive in a run.
Brandon Inge and Austin Jackson each hit RBI doubles with two outs in the sixth. Detroit has bounced back nicely from a 3-7 start. The Tigers are now 12-10, while Chicago and Minnesota — the other expected contenders in the American League Central — are below .500.
“Getting guys out there and getting in a groove is really what you think about,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “You want to play good baseball — steady. I think we’re doing that pretty good right now.”
Detroit’s starting pitchers have led the way with 14 quality starts in the last 18 games. The Tigers allowed three solo homers Friday night, but that was all of Chicago’s scoring in the series.
“The worst thing about being a coach in baseball or a manager is that you can only send nine guys out and pray,” Guillen said. “You can’t run plays like in basketball, and you can’t change your defense like in football.”
NOTES: Chicago’s Omar Vizquel started at 2B on his 44th birthday. “I don’t think too many people think at the age of 44 they’ll still be playing baseball,” he said before the game. “I’m still having fun. That’s the main thing.” ... Detroit DH Magglio Ordonez singled in the fifth and is now 15 for 26 against Danks.