The Detroit Tigers won their 50th game of the season, riding their powerful middle of the order bats to an 8-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez were a force, Detroit's 3-4-5 hitters combing for a 9-for-13, five RBI, five runs scored night.
Rick Porcello (6-6) held the White Sox to three runs, scattering seven hits over six innings. Joaquin Benoit (of the #BackBenoit for the All-Star Game campaign) pitched the ninth to convert his eighth save of the season. Losing pitcher Dylan Axelrod (3-6) managed to hang around for 5 2/3 innings, the Tigers rocking the White Sox starter for seven runs and 11 of their 15 hits.
Bouncing back from yesterday's struggles with the bat, the Tigers were led by Fielder's three hits, a home run and and three RBIs. Cabrera added three hits and his 93rd RBI, Martinez extending his hitting streak to 12 games with three hits, also driving in a run.Alex Avila also chipped in a pair of RBIs.
The majority of the White Sox offense came on two swings of the bat, Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham both homering. Last night's hitting star, Alex Rios, followed up his record tying 6-for-6 game with far more mundane 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Tonight the White Sox were reminded just how dangerous the Tigers can be. When the Tigers' big mashers mash, they are damn near unbeatable.
The first inning bode well for a good start for Porcello, retiring the side on three ground balls. It bode well for the Tigers' offense as well, taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Torii Hunter singled off Axelrod with one out. With two down, Fielder broke out the uppercut swing and took aim at the Belle Tire sign in right field. He just missed the sign, but didn't miss the right field stands. Fielder's 16th home run of the season gave the Tigers an early 2-0 advantage.
Porcello allowed his first hit and run with two out in the second (after last night, the White Sox scoring a two out run is no surprise). Both came on one swing of the bat of Gillaspie, who homered to make it a 2-1 game. His no-doubt solo shot was home run number six on the season.
The Tigers got that run right back with ... you guessed it ... a two out rally. Bottom of two and two down, Ramon Santiago looped a single to right . He would score all the way from first when Austin Jackson's gapper to left center rolled all the way to the wall for an RBI triple (MLB.com video). Jackson was stranded when Hunter awkwardly swung and missed at strike three, ending up in a heap in the batter's box. Regardless, the Tigers had extended their lead to 3-1.
The Tigers would put Axelrod on the ropes by load the bases on three singles and walk with one out in the third. After Cabrera led off with a single and was thrown out trying to take second on a pitch in the dirt, Fielder and Martinez hit back-to-back singles. Jhonny Peralta's long at bat resulted in a walk, loading the bases for Andy Dirks.
Dirks did not have a good at bat, falling behind in the count before fouling out. It was up to Alex Avila to not squander a bases loaded opportunity with two out. Aye, there's the rub. There needs to be two outs before anyone can score a run in this series.
The count full, Avila lashed a sinking liner to right. Alex Rios went for the hero play, but came up short. With Rios unable to make a diving catch, Avila had a two out, two RBI single to increase the Tigers' lead to 5-1.
Unfortunately, Porcello didn't get the shutdown inning he needed. After getting the first out in the fourth, Porcello gave up consecutive singles to Jeff Keppinger, Gillaspie and Viciedo. Viciedo's second hit of the game made it a 5-2 Tigers.
Runners on the corners and still just one out, Beckham looped a gapper to right center. Hunter robbed Beckham of extra bases and saved a run with a backhanded, tumbling catch in right center (MLB.com video). But Gillaspie was able to tag up on the play, pulling the White Sox within two at 5-3.
Tyler Flowers made a bid to give the White Sox the lead, but his fly ball to deep left was just a couple of feet short of home run distance. On the warning track, Dirks hauled in Flowers' fly ball to end the inning.
Porcello was holding the White Sox at bay, having faced the minimum though six after Viciedo's one out single in the fourth inning. Though Axelrod appeared to be on the verge of being knocked out of the box in the third, he remained in the game. Axelrod hung around long enough to last 5 2/3 innings, pulled after a Santiago walk and Hunter reached on an infield single.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura called on right-hander Ramon Troncoso to face Cabrera. Cabrera went with an outside fastball for an RBI single to right, Santiago crossing the plate, the Tigers now up 6-3. Cabrera now has 93 RBI on the season.
Fielder went to the opposite field on Troncoso as well with a hard hiut single to left. Hunter ran on weak-armed Viciedo in left, the throw far enough off line to allow Hunter to score easily.
Runners on the corners for the smoking hot Martinez, he also went to the opposite field, singling to left. Cabrera jogged home to put the Tigers up 8-3.
The Tigers had scored three runs on consecutive two out opposite field singles from the 3-4-5 men in the batting order. Holding an 8-3 lead after six, the Tigers had doubled up the White Sox on hits, 14-7.
A five run lead and quality start locked down for Porcello after 93 pitches, Jim Leyland went to the bullpen to start the seventh. Bruce Rondon got the call to face the bottom of the White Sox order. Beckham turned on a belt-high off speed pitch, sending a liner into the left field bullpen. The solo home run was only the second of the season for Beckham, shrinking the Tigers' lead to 8-4.
Drew Smyly warming up, Rondon walked Alejandro De Aza with two out, then wild pitched him to second ... and to third. De Aza scored on Alexei Ramírez's double to right, the White Sox making it a game at 8-5. With a runner in scoring position, Rios bounced out to Santiago, allowing Rondon to finally get out of the inning.
Ventura doing what he loves most, making pitching changes, brought on the left-handed David Purcey to start the seventh. No, not ex-Tiger David Pauley, but ex-Tiger David Purcey. Whichever ex-Tiger it was, he retired the side in order.
Smyly took over in eighth, just as Leyland designed ... save for his seventh inning guy allowing a pair of runs. Smyly was the polar opposite of Rondon, in that he was good. Smyly needed a mere nine pitches to retire the side in order.
The Tigers still maintaining a three run lead, Benoit entered the game in the ninth hoping to slam the door on the White Sox. Benoit made the inning a tad frustrating, walking a pair, allowing the tying run to come to the plate in Ramirez with two out.
But it was just so much White Sox false hope. Benoit nailed down his eighth save in eight opportunities when Ramirez bounced out to end the game.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 8, White Sox 5, two outs runs scored 10. If there is such a thing as a perfunctory, workman-like victory, this was it.
Once the Tigers took the lead, it never felt as if they were in trouble. Porcello did the bare minimum for earn a quality start with six innings and three runs. But when it's your fifth starter twirling a six inning quality start, you'll take it and run. The middle of the order did what they were supposed to do - see ball, hit ball, drive in runs. Smyly and Benoit continued to show they are the Tigers' only trustworthy relievers, Rondon's iffy performance driving that fact home.
The Tigers are back at their high water mark on the season, ten games over .500 with a record of 50-40. A Tigers win combined with an Indians loss extends Detroit's lead in the Central to 3 1/2 games. In their last ten games, the Tigers are 7-3 to the Tribe's 4-6.
The series finale features an elite pitching match up, even if their W/L records don't reflect it. All-Star left-hander Chris Sale (5-8, 2.78 ERA) gets the start for the White Sox, taking on Anibal Sanchez (7-5, 2.70 ERA). Sale has been victimized by a lack of run support, resulting in six losses and a no-decision in his his last seven starts, despite a 3.10 ERA. Kept on a strict pitch count during his first start after coming off the DL, Sanchez allowed one run and three hits over five innings in a win over the Indians. As it's getaway day for the White Sox, first pitch at Comerica Park is 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
A year ago today, the roles of Tigers and White Sox were reversed, though not as extreme. At the All-Star break, the 44-42 Tigers were in third, 3 1/2 back of the first place 47-38 White Sox. As they say, things change.
"Might be an Arby's night."
Prince Fielder goes yard on the very next pitch.
Victor Martinez's first inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Martinez has to be one Tiger who is not ready for the All-Star break, as he's really heating up, hitting .378/.439/.568 in July
Torii Hunter's misadventures in right field continue. Second inning, Dayan Viciedo hit a fly ball to deep right, Hunter having trouble both judging the ball and his proximity to the fence. Though the ball was quite catchable, Hunter made an ungraceful leap and badly whiffed on the attempt, Viciedo ending up with a double.
Raise your hand if when Detroit signed Hunter and Cleveland signed Raburn if you thought the Tribe was getting the better defensive RF.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) July 10, 2013
Growing old is not for the squeamish. I speak from experience.
Hunter looks like a different, better outfielder when he doesn't have to worry about the wall looming behind him. Hunter made a marvelous run saving diving catch in the fourth, but it was on a ball hit in the gap.
"Shannon, that doesn't match."
Meanwhile, in the Tigers' radio booth:
Jim Price just called Bruce Bochy "Boochy."— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) July 11, 2013
Sometimes you have to yell to be heard:
If the fifth inning was any indication, I think he heard you. RT @tokarzontigers: STOP BEING CRAPPY PORCELLO— Al Beaton (@BigAlBYB) July 11, 2013
Porcello in the fourth - two runs, three hits. Porcello in the fifth and sixth - no runs, one hit. KEEP YELLING, TOKARZ!
A primer for those of you who remain confused between David Purcey and David Pauley:
David Purcey was the guy the Tigers got for Scott Sizemore. David Pauley came over in the Fister trade. Neither had great success.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) July 11, 2013
David Purcey and David Pauley are our Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman.— Mike Isbored (@mike_is_bored) July 11, 2013
What a difference a day makes. Last night Alex Rios was the talk of baseball thanks to a 6-for-6 performance. Tonight was something else altogether, Rios was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. The game of baseball in a mean mistress, never allowing you to be too confident ... unless you're Miguel Cabrera.
Prince Fielder: His two run home run got the Tigers on the board in the first, added an RBI single in the sixth.
Miguel Cabrera: Just a typical Cabrera game - three hits, a run scored and an RBI. Needs seven RBIs in four games to have 100 RBI at the break.
Victor Martinez: Three more hits for the white hot DH. In two weeks, Martinez has raised his batting average from .225 to .254.
Rick Porcello: Wasn't great, but he was more than good enough to earn a solid quality start. Now Porcello can drop the appeal to his six game suspension with the All-Star break looming and not miss a start.
Drew Smyly: Crushed any White Sox hopes of a comeback with a dominant, shutdown eighth inning.
Bruce Rondon: You never know what you're going to get from Rondon from game-to-game. The White Sox were getting some very good swings in against Rondon, who looked extremely hittable. Rondon served up a home run, double, two wild pitches and a pair of runs in one inning of work, raising his ERA to 7.14. Post game, Jim Leyland said he spoke with the rookie about his approach, adding, "He's doing fine."
Hawk Harrelson: I didn't have the "pleasure" of listing to Hawk, but just knowing he's out there spewing crap like "He gone," "The will will to win" and pouting when things go bad ... HISSSSSSS!!!
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|2||Joaquin on Sunshine||90|
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|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|5||Trout Jefferson||Porcello with another quality start.|
|2||Michigan&TrumbullinLA||Giant steps are what he takes...|
|2||Joaquin on Sunshine||SWEET, SWEET VICTORY|
GAME 89 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
By sheer force of will and her magic bucket hat, Floppy Hat Lady mind melded with Matt Tuiasosopo, producing a game tying home run. She was rewarded for her efforts with the BYB PotG, taking 44% of the vote.