The White Sox sit in first place holding a three-game margin, after the Tigers dropped a 2-1 decision to the Royals on Thursday. The last time the two teams played -- from July 20-22 -- it ended in a sweep for Detroit.
"We've got to have a good weekend," White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham said.
The Tigers will be unable to take sole possession of the first place, even if they repeat last month's success. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he's paid attention to other teams' wins and losses on a day to day basis, but only because he can't escape them.
"They're right there with these modern stadiums, every score in baseball you see every day of the year, practically," Leyland said. "... That's what they're there for. You've got to just win games, take care of your own business, regardless of what the outcome of somebody else's game is."
Right-hander Jake Peavy hopes to set the tone and not give the Tigers a chance.
Peavy has seen the Tigers four times this year and has been pretty solid each time out. Neither his record nor ERA vs. Detroit necessarily indicates how well he's pitched (1-1, 5.06 ERA), but looking at his last start in the Motor City on July 20 provides an example.
The 31-year-old started the game with five straight strikeouts -- two short of the White Sox team record -- before a three-run third inning derailed him against Justin Verlander.
"I love pitching in games like this," said Peavy after taking the loss. "I wasn't quite good enough. I didn't make a pitch. The ball just didn't go our way."
The Tigers will counter with Doug Fister, who was unsure if he'd be able to make his start after a groin strain on Aug. 19. But Leyland and Fister told the media on Wednesday that he would be ready to go.
Having been injured and hitting the 15-day disabled list twice over the course of the season, Fister hasn't faced Chicago in 2012. But as has been the case with Fister this year, if he's healthy, it could very well be a pitchers' duel.
Before allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings to the Twins in his last start, due to pitching through groin tightness he felt in the first inning, Fister had been 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA since the All-Star break.
Fister's health could play a role in the outcome, but for Leyland, so will his team's ability to hit against Peavy like it did back in July.
"The only way you beat a guy like [Peavy] is to out-compete him," said Leyland after that game. "You'd better compete. I'm talking about every at-bat, you've got to compete, because that one hit you get might be the one that makes the difference in a game."
White Sox: Youk given day off, set for Tigers
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis was given Thursday's game off to make sure he's fresh for this weekend. Youkilis is 1-for-21 at Comerica Park this season, including his time with the Red Sox.
Prior to Thursday's game against the Orioles, the White Sox placed backup catcher Tyler Flowers on paternity leave, as he and his wife are expecting their first child. Catcher Hector Gimenez was called up from Triple-A Charlotte. A.J. Pierzynski started behind the plate for the White Sox on Thursday after having Wednesday off.
Tigers: Cabrera, Fielder experienced vs. Peavy
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have the most career at-bats of any current Tigers vs. Peavy. Cabrera is 9-for-38 (.237) with one home run, six RBIs and 14 strikeouts. Fielder is 9-for-27 (.333) with four doubles and two RBIs, with seven K's.
Fister made one start in 2011 against Chicago and was pounded for 14 hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox.
Both the Tigers and White Sox have the exact three pitchers they hoped to use squaring off in the series. After Friday's opener, Detroit's Max Scherzer will face Francisco Liriano on Saturday and a primetime matchup on Sunday night with Chris Sale opposing Tigers ace Verlander.
The Tigers lead the season series, 7-4.