The Detroit Tigers may have been missing Miguel Cabrera, but he wasn't needed in a 6-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers are now 4-0 since the start of 2011 without Cabrera in the lineup.
After the win, Tigers manager Jim Leyland informed the media Cabrera might play in one of the two remaining games in the series, but not both. It doesn't appear a stint on the disabled list is in the offing for the reigning AL MVP, either.
Jim Leyland was asked if he thought Miguel Cabrera could require a trip to the disabled list. Leyland: "I do not."— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) July 24, 2013
As for the game itself, the White Sox all but handed it to the Tigers.
Rick Porcello got off to a rocky start, wriggling out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning. He would settle down to pitch seven scoreless innings, giving up a four hits in what was his fourth straight quality start..
Starter and loser Hector Santiago (3-6) may not have pitched well, but the Tigers were all but given the game on a platter by the White Sox "defense." Santiago allowed six runs, five earned, and just five hits in six innings, but his defense committed four errors behind him.
The White Sox feeble offense was led (if you can call it as much) by Conor Gillaspie's two singles. Paul Konerko added a meaningless two RBI double in the bottom of the ninth. Gifted base runners thanks to four errors and five walks, the Tigers made their eight hits count. Jhonny Peralta and Hernan Perez both had two hits and two RBI's. Both circled the bases with one swing. Peralta homered, Perez scoring on a triple and outfield error.
The game was more about how badly the White Sox played (and they were God awful), but give the Tigers credit for taking advantage when give the opportunity ... after opportunity, after opportunity.
Missing his big bat in the lineup, Jim Leyland tried to force the issue against Hector Santiago by having both Austin Jackson (who singled) and Torii Hunter (reached via a walk) run. To no one's surprise, trying to run failed miserably.
Jackson got an awful jump, White Sox catcher Josh Phegley having no trouble throwing out Jackson. Hunter was caught in a run down, and should have been the third out of the inning. The only reason Hunter he wasn't was due to a very questionable interference call on Adam Dunn.
Dunn was given an E-3 and White Sox manager Robin Ventura ejected for vigorously arguing the call. The whole damn mess was made moot when Prince Fielder bounced out to end the inning. But even that play was ugly, Danks was forced to make an acrobatic catch thanks to a lousy throw by Jeff Keppinger.
Lesson learned - Despite what callers on sports talk radio believe, the Tigers suck at small ball.
Bottom half of the first, Rick Porcello found himself in deep trouble thanks to his getting squeezed, which resulted in a pair of walks. After two were out, Alex Rios singled to deep short. Procello proceeded to walk the bases full, issuing free passes to Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. Things looked bleak when Porcello fell behind Keppinger 3-0, truly getting squeezed the process. But Porcello finally threw two straight strikes, the second getting him out of the bases full jam when Keppinger bounced into a 5-4 fielder's choice.
Was Porcello getting squeezed? Pitch tracking says, "Oh, Hell yes!" See Keppinger's at bat for reference:
White Sox starter Hector Santiago was struggling with the small K zone as well, going to a three ball count on five of the first nine batters he faced, walking two.
What had turned into a pitcher's duel rolled into the fourth as a scoreless tie. It wouldn't remain a duel for much longer, much in thanks to the White Sox's God awful defense setting up scoring opportunities. The Tigers would take full advantage.
Conor Gillaspie booted what should have been the first out of the fourth inning, Matt Tuiasosopo reaching base on the E-5. After one was out, Victor Martinez ripped a line shot into the left field corner, Tuiasosopo holding up at third. Jhonny Perlata would male it 1-0 Tigers when he bounced a single through the left side.
Santiago loaded the bases by issuing a four pitch walk to .184 hitting Alex Avila. Remember, Avila has just ONE hit against left-handed pitching this season. Bases now juiced for Don Kelly, Santiago gave Donnie Baseball a free RBI by walking him on five pitches.
Hernan Perez didn't hit the ball far, but far enough. His fly ball to medium right brought home Peralta for the second run of the inning. A good throw might have nailed Peralta. But Alex Rios was charged with the third White Sox error of the night, flinging the pill so far off-line, Avila and Kelly were able to advance into scoring position.
Santiago was able to end the rally at two runs total by striking out a struggling Jackson to end the inning.
Perez followed up his top of the inning RBI by making a spectacular play to end the bottom of the fourth. Keppinger bounced a ground ball up the middle with single written all over it. Showing off his rage, Perez made a diving backhand stop , then threw out Keppinger from his knees in the outfield grass (Fielder gets a golf clap for a nice scoop). It was the sort of athletic defensive play we don't see very often from the Tigers. Ramon Santiago only dreams of making that play.
Bottom of five and holding a three run lead, Porcello found himself mired in his first jam since the first. Leading off, Gillaspie singled to short right, PEeez almost pulling off another miraculous defensive play. He flagged the ground ball down, but not realizing he had more time, Perez hurried an off-line throw. Porcello then walked Dayan Viciedo on four pitches.
First pitch swinging, Phegley gave Porcello the ground ball he desperately needed. Kelly quickly turned a textbook 5-4-3 double play. De Aza ended the inning, grounding out to first, wasting what had been a two on, no one out opportunity for the White Sox.
The Tigers had hit a handful of warning track drives through five innings. One down in the sixth, Perlata found that extra few feet (and then some), taking Sanitago's low 90's fastball on a line into the left field seats. The ninth home run of the season for the Tigers' All-Star shortstop increased their lead to 4-0.
Two down in the sixth and Avila on base after his second base on ball, Perez laced a line drive into the left center field gap. Avila scored easily. While Viciedo played a ridiculous amount of hot potato with the ball, dropping/bobbling it at least three times, Perez was racing around the bases, and scored standing up. The Tigers found themselves up 6-0 while comedy gold had ensued in left field.
In Little League Perez would have had his first career homer. Though the world hoped against hope Perez would receive credit for an epic inside-the-park home run, it was correctly scored RBI triple, E-7. Viciedo's butchery was the fourth error of the night and seventh of the series for the sad-sack White Sox
Santiago was replaced after six innings by right-handed reliever Dylan Axelrod. Runners on the corners and one out, a lucky double play bailed out Axelrod. Martinez hit the ball on the screws, smoking a line drive directly to Dunn at first. Andy Dirks never had a chance in Hell to get back to the bag.
Porcello was cruising along, having allowed a mere four hits in seven innings. His sinker was working as the Baseball Gods intended, nine ground ball outs to just one strike out. Kid Rick's excellent night was over after seven full innings, replaced by Al Alburquerque getting work in (or in Rod Allen's words, "Sharpen him up.")
After an uneventful eighth, Alburquerque started the ninth. After walking the first two batters he faced, Jim Leyland, in no mood for hijinks, immediately yanked Alburquerque. Leyland went to his closer, Joaquin Benoit.
Paul Kornerko drove in both runners with a double into the right field corner. It was meaningless, other than it increased Alburquerque's ERA (deservedly, considering the number of inherited runners he's allowed to score).
Benoit would retire the next three White Sox in order to preserve what really was an easy victory.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 6, White Sox 2.
That was fun, wasn't it? Keep in mind the Tigers still have 14 games with the White Sox, let alone with the rest of the Central bottom feeders. That's why the Tigers remain overwhelming favorites to make the playoffs.
The Tigers passed a couple of season milestones with the win. They finally crash through the ten games over .500 barrier on their eighth attempt, now at 55-44 on the season. It's the first time since 2010 the Tigers have reached the 11 games over mark in July. They have reached the good side of .500 on the road, now at 26-25 away from Comerica. The Indians are on the west coast playing the Mariners, so the Tigers' lead in the Central currently stands at three games.
The Tigers looking to clinch the series, game three against the White Sox features Anibal Sanchez (7-7, 2.85 ERA) facing left-hander John Danks (2-7, 4.52 ERA). Currently owning he fifth best ERA in the AL, Sanchez was victimized by a lack of run support in his last start, a 1-0 loss to the Royals. Danks' streak of four straight quality starts was snapped last Friday, allowing seven hits and five runs over seven innings in a loss to the Braves. First pitch at Y.S. Cellular Field is set for 8:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
As if I needed to remind everyone of the Tigers' record when they reach ten gmaes over .500, but I will anyway.
Tigers have been 10 games over .500 8 times this season (including tonight). They're a combined 0-7 in their next games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 23, 2013
Make it 1-7, w00t!
Just because you have speed doesn't mean you are a good base runner - call it the Quintin Berry corollary. We had more proof of that in the first inning, Austin Jackson easily thrown out trying to steal second. Jackson gets great jumps on the ball in center field (as shown by running down Alejandro De Aza's fly ball to deep left center in first inning), but he can't make use of his speed as a base runner. Since the start of 2012, Jackson has stolen 18 bases, but has been caught 12 times.
Jackson's controversial bunt on a 3-1 count has officaly become a meme. Here's our good friend Rogo after Jeff Keppenger bounced out to end a bases loaded threat in the first:
Keppinger grounds out on a 3-1 count. Silly. Everyone knows you bunt at 3-1.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) July 24, 2013
Jackson is also struggling mightily at the plate. The last time he didn't strike out at least once in a game was on June 27. Including tonight, Jackson has struck out in 22 straight games, a total of 32. Nine of those games featured multiple whiffs.
Now that I'm no longer physically capable of playing team sports, camaraderie like this is what I miss the most about being on a team.
While Cabrera was forcing fig newtons on Pena, Don Kelly was having an excellent defensive game in his place. Donnie Baseball robbed Alex Rios of a base hit in the third with a diving play.
Donnie makes a diving play, writes extra stuff in birthday cards. #donniedeeds— Eric Wayne (@PhilCokesBrain) July 24, 2013
The White Sox in the nutshell: Alex Avila had just one hit against left-handed pitching this season. Left-handed White Sox starter Hector Santiago walked Avila TWICE.
Meanwhile, Hawk Harrelson was busy deluding himself on the White Sox broadcast.
@JGoro8 But Hawk has the most important stat of them all: TwTw.— John Czech (@JohnCzech) July 24, 2013
How mad was Jim Leyland over Al Alburquerque walking the first two batters he faced in the ninth? Mad is an understatement. He was pissed.
Upset about two walks to start the 9th? #Tigers Leyland marched to the mound so fast it was if the world's last Marlboro was out there.— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) July 24, 2013
I was thrilled to see Leyland not put up with an inability to throw strikes. But in the post game, Leyland spun it as positively as possible, saying he was "Fine," preferring to talk about Alburquerque's 1-2-3 eighth.
Rick Porcello: Posted a fourth consecutive quality start, Porcello dominated the White Sox despite only one strike out. As long as Porcello never has to face the Angels, the Tigers are golden.
Jhonny Peralta: Three deuces for Perlata - Two hits, two runs, two RBIs. There's also a wild card - a solo home run.
Hernan Perez: The rookie second baseman had a career night with a triple, single, sacrifice fly, two RBis and some stellar defense.
The White Sox's defense: The Tigers' defense has never been this bad, has it? The Tigers look like they're running nine Gold Gloves on the field compared to the stone-handed White Sox.
Al Alburquerque: Blow out or not, you can't walk batters late in games. PERIOD.
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Last night Torii Hunter called Victor Martinez, "The hottest thing on the planet." On June 28, Martinez was hitting .225 Four hits in the 7-3 win over the White Sox raised his batting average to .270. For his efforts, Martinez was named BYB PotG by carrying 55% of the vote.