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Sale pitches 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball

For all their recent struggles in their division, the White Sox have gotten off to a good start against the American League Central.

It will be up to left-hander Chris Sale to keep them rolling against Rick Porcello and the Tigers on Sunday, which is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball, meaning all uniformed personnel at all 15 games will be wearing Robinson's retired No. 42 for the third consecutive year.

The White Sox enter Sunday's game with a chance to sweep their division rivals -- the team analysts almost unanimously predicted will roll over the AL Central competition for a division championship -- and pick up their fifth straight against division opponents. The White Sox went 32-40 against the AL Central last season and haven't posted a winning record in their division since going 44-29 in 2008.

Making his second start after an impressive season debut, Sale will be tasked with silencing the Tigers' potent bats. The 23-year-old southpaw, making the transition from late-inning reliever to frontline starter, allowed just three hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Indians on Monday, striking out five while walking two with 60 of his 100 pitches going for strikes.

"I felt great," Sale said after that outing. "I felt strong the entire time."

"Stuff-wise, that's not really the issue," White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sale. "People are [wondering] if he can hold up. And we probably could have left him in there. What we got in the bullpen, we felt comfortable just bringing him out after the first start of the year."

The Tigers also feel they have a talented young pitcher in Porcello, who threw seven strong innings in his 2012 debut Tuesday. The right-hander dueled Rays rookie Matt Moore to a draw, and manager Jim Leyland was quick to point out that the 23-year-old Porcello is still loaded with potential.

Porcello showed off his ability Tuesday, easily inducing ground balls to help keep his pitch count to a mere 92 over seven innings. He only gave up one extra-base hit, recorded seven groundouts, and five of the seven hits he allowed were grounders. He also struck out four while walking only one.

"You can tell he's growing up and he's getting that idea what he wants to do," catcher Gerald Laird said Tuesday.

Tigers: Inge activated off DL, expected to start
• Fresh off a rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo, Brandon Inge was officially activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday, the first day he was eligible. Inge is expected to work in a three-man platoon at second base with Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago.

The right-handed-hitting Inge, who ended Saturday's game with a groundout as a pinch-hitter, is expected to start Sunday against the lefty Sale. For his career, Inge has posted a .265/.342/.458 batting line against left-handed pitchers, compared to .223/.291/.362 against right-handers.

• Doug Fister has yet to begin a throwing program and is still receiving treatment to ease the soreness caused by his strained left rib-cage muscle. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand updated Fister's status Saturday, saying he won't begin throwing until he makes further progress in his recovery.

The fact that he hasn't started throwing yet doesn't necessarily mean Fister is due for a long-term absence, but the club won't be able to set any sort of timetable until his soreness subsides.

White Sox: Pierzynski returning to lineup after day off
• Catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be back in the starting lineup Sunday after taking off Saturday.

Manager Robin Ventura said the decision to sit Pierzynski on Saturday was mostly about matchups, but he also wants to keep his catcher fresh for the long haul.

"That's important. He's going to be playing most of the games. It's not a platoon or anything like that," Ventura said. "It's more of making sure he stays fresh and I just think he'll be better for that. We'll be better for that."

Pierzynski's backup, Tyler Flowers, hit one of the club's three solo homers on Saturday.

• Ventura also said it will be "a while" before he makes any permanent lineup changes based on his players' numbers or struggles at the plate.

"It's more of their approach than it is what the numbers are," Ventura said.

Worth noting
• Following a solo shot in Saturday's 5-1 win over the Tigers, Paul Konerko now has 397 career home runs.

• While the White Sox have won the first two games of the series, the Tigers have still taken 21 of the clubs' last 29 meetings and 11 of their last 16 at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.

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