Despite entering the night 25 games back of the first place Detroit Tigers, the Chicago White Sox rode the left arm of Chris Sale to a 6-2 victory. The Tigers lost consecutive games for the first time since July 19-20.
Suffering from the worst run support in the AL, Sale (8-11) took matters into his own hands. The All-Star left-hander tossed his fifth career complete game, allowing two runs on nine hits, striking out six, walking none. A dominant Sale held the Tigers scoreless over the final seven innings.
Tigers starter and loser Doug Fister (10-6) had won his last four decisions, but lost for the first time since June 21. Fister needed 103 pitches to struggle through six innings, giving up eight hits and four runs, walking three, striking out just one. Al Alburquerque took over and faced seven batters in an inning of work, serving up five hits and the final two runs.
Miguel Cabrera homered for the fourth straight game, taking Sale deep in the first inning. Brayan Pena drove in the second Tigers' run with a second inning double. Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Matt Tuiasosopo all had two hits.
The White Sox had 14 hits off three Tigers' pitchers, 13 were singles. Gordon Beckham led with the way with three hits, a run scored and an RBI. Jeff Keppinger added a three hits and scored a run. Josh Phegley had a pair of hits, driving in a pair.
Sometimes you just plain get beat. Tonight, Chris Sale just plain beat the Tigers.
Si or no? For Miguel Cabrera, SI! Two down in the first inning, a first pitch swinging Cabrera launched a Chris Sale fastball to the opposite field.. All ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia could do was leap and watch the fly ball clear the right field fence, Cabrera hitting his fourth home run in as many games. Home run number 37 for Cabrera gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead (MLB.com video).
The Tigers increased their lead to 2-0 with two out in the second. The white hot Victor Martinez led off the inning with a line drive single to left. He was erased from the base path when stone cold Matt Tuiasosopo bounced into a 5-4 fielder's choice. But Tuiasosopo hustled down the line and beat the relay, which would pay off in a run.
Two down and Tuiasosopo still on first, Brayan Pena's line drive to right center found the gap. It skipped by Garcia, unable to cut the ball off due to not taking the best of routes. Pena ended up with an RBI double, Tuiasosopo scoring without a throw, the Tigers up 2-0.
In the meantime, Second Half Fister was doing what Second Half Fister does, retiring the first six batters he faced, four via ground balls. The out streak came to an end in the third, Jeff Keppinger leading off with a ground ball single to center. No problem for Second Half Fister. One down, Josh Phegley bounced into an inning ending 6-4-3 twin killing.
After three full, the Tigers still held a 2-0 advantage. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Second Half Fister took the rest of the night off.
You know things are going well for the Tigers when the slow-of-foot Martinez beats out an infield hit. He did just that with one out in the fourth, a swinging bunt on which third baseman Keppinger had no play. Tuiasosopo followed with a bouncer to center, Martinez stopping at second. This time around, Sale was able to pitch out of trouble. Omar Infante made a bid, but flrw out to the warning track in right, Pena taking a borderline 3-2 breaking ball for strike three (so borderline, Pena had started for first before home plate umpire Mark Wegner punched him out.).
Doug Fister had his first spot of trouble in the bottom half of the fourth. Gordan Beckham lined a one-hopper through the left side with one out, Mr. Three True Outcomes, Adan Dunn, achieving one with a two out walk. Paul Konerko at the plate, Fister wild pitched (later changed to a passed ball) the runners into scoring position. Fister proceeded to walk Kornerko, loading the bases for, of all players, Garcia.
Garcia didn't have to do any work for the first run. Fister bounced his second breaking ball into the dirt, bouncing away. Beckham raced home on the second wild pitch of the inning. Fister got out of the jam with minimal damage when Fielder sno-coned Garcia's foul looping liner. But the light-hitting White Sox had pulled within a run on just one hit, much helped by two walks, a wild pitch and passed ball.
Fister's sudden struggles continued in the bottom of the fifth. Keppinger led off with a ground ball just inside third, good for a two base hit. He would score one out later, Phegley singling to center. Austin Jackson's throw was too high for a leaping Fielder to handle, just knocking it down.Keppinger was safe at home and Phegley, who would have been dead to rights, caught between first and second, was able to advance to second.
Things escalated quickly, paper cut by paper cut
Alejandro De Aza's seeing eye chopper through the left side fooled Phegley, who went back to second on the single. But the Tigers couldn't capitalize on the break. Beckham's comebacker deflected off Fister's leg, bouncing into short right, Phegley scoring all the way from second. Alexei Ramírez made it 4-2 White Sox with a line single to left, scoring De Aza.
Fister on the ropes, Al Alburquerque (God forbid ) was warming up. Still only one out, Dunn walked to load the bases for Konerko. Fister got his first out in five batters, striking out Konerko on a bender out of the zone. The ninth White Sox to bat ended the inning, Garcia bouncing out to short, leaving the bases loaded. But the White Sox had taken the lead in spite of their awful base running, scoring three runs on five hits to take a 4-2 lead.
Dave Hogg of the AP described Fister's fifth in a nutshell:
Fister is dying the death of a million lemon-drizzled paper cuts.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) August 13, 2013
The meat of the Tigers' order faced Sale in the top of the sixth. Cabrera and Fielder started the inning with back-to-back singles. Martinez's chopper into the hole in the left side looked to be headed for left. But Ramirez was able to glove it with a nice play, then throw out the unable to run Cabrera at third base.
It looked and sounded as if Tuiasosopo had given the Tigers a lead when a loud CRACK was unleashed when he hit Sale's fastball. But Tuiasosopo's deep fly was to the wrong part of the Cell, dying on the center field waring track for a long, loud out. What started off as a promising inning died a premature death, Infante bouncing into a 4-6 fielder's choice.
The sixth inning would end up as the Tigers' last real scoring threat, Sale going into lock down mode over the final three frames.
One out in the sixth and John Danks on first after a single, Jose Iglesias made a defensive play for the ages. Fister shattered Phegley's bat, resulting in a soft looper just over the glove of the 6'8" pitcher. Iglesias charged, dove, bare-handed the ball off the turf and flung it to first, all one motion. Add in Fielder's stretch and Phegley was out in a marvelous bang-bang play (MLB.com video).
Words cannot describe just how good of play Iglesias made.
You know it's an impressive play when you ask what happened, and 37 tweeps eagerly reply only to say they have no idea how to describe it— Paul Wezner (@TigsTown) August 13, 2013
After everyone picked their jaws off the floor, Danks was second with two outs. Fister uncorked his second wild pitch of the night, Danks advancing to third. He would be stranded when De Aza sent a can of corn to left.
But Sale had things well under control. Top of seven, Iglesias legged out an infield single with one out. The inning ended quickly, Jackson bouncing into a tailor-made 6-4-2 double play.
Alburquerque took over for Fister, who struggled to reach six full innings. Alburquerque struggled to get three outs.
Alburquerque allowed three singles in the seventh, but a double play after the first hit and a ground out after the third kept the White Sox off the scoreboard. But the Houdini act wouldn't be considered an inning increasing anyone's confidence in the wild right-hander.
Sale, in full beast mode, set down the middle of the Tigers' order (Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez) on just eight pitches in the eighth. For the Tigers to pull this one out, they would need another ninth inning comeback. Before that could even happen, Alburquerque would need to get out of the bottom half of the inning unscathed. Sure...
Alburquerque's job was to keep the Tigers within two runs. Instead, he put the White Sox in position to tack on insurance runs. After allowing back-to-back singles to Keppinger and Danks, Alburquerque had faced seven batters, allowing five hits. Jim Leyland realized the folly of having Alburquerque pitch a second inning, and called on a hastily warmed up Bruce Rondon.
Runners on the corners and the infield in, Rodon busted Phegley on the fists, but he muscled a soft, shallow looper over the head of a pulled in Iglesias. Keppinger scored on the single, pushing the White Sox's lead to 5-2. De Aza followed with a line drive to left, right at Tuiasosopo. Danks just plain outran the throw, which was also off-line. The sacrifice fly made it a 6-2 game.
Rondon would get out of the inning on a 6-4-3 double play, but he could only do so much to clean up Alburquerque's mess.
Their lead now four runs and the 6-7-8 batters due up, Robin Ventura let Sale go a full nine innings. Sale would allow a one out single to Tuiasosopo before retiring the final two batters, earning the complete game victory.
Game over. Your final score is worst team in the AL 6, best team in the AL 2.
When Sale is on his game, and he was tonight, he's very hard to beat. No shame in losing to a true ace. Let alone when the White Sox offense slashed 13 singles! Talk about death by paper cuts. Giving up 13 singles, many of the ground ball variety, is more like a massacre by paper cuts.
Fans are more worked up over Alburquerque, who was, to put it bluntly, awful. His ERA now stands at an ugly 5.51, with a WHIP to match at 1.87. Alburquerque's become the weak link in what's become a very good bullpen.
As for the Central standings - good news, the spiraling into oblivion Indians lost and have fallen into third place. Bad news, the now second place Royals won again, beating the woeful Marlins. Tonight's loss drops the Tigers to 69-48 on the season, their lead at the end of the night over the Royals stands at 6 1/2 games.
Game two in Chicago features Max Scherzer (17-1, 2.84 ERA) versus left-hander Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.43 ERA). Scherzer remains on a career roll. He lost his only game of the season a month ago, is 3-0, 0.87 over his past three starts, and has beaten the White Sox twice over the past three weeks. Santiago hasn't won in over six weeks, more in thanks to a lack of run support than his performance. In his three previous starts, Santiago has a loss and a pair of no-decisions while posting a 3.72 ERA. First pitch at U.S. Cellular Field is scheduled for 8:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Miguel Cabrera's first inning home run was number 358 of his illustrious career. Cabrera is now tied with Hall of Famer Yogi Berra and Carlos Lee. It took Berra 18 seasons and Lee 14 to reach the 358 mark, Cabrera is 3/4 through his tenth season in the big leagues.
Though most of Cabrera's big flies are just that, BIG flies, the first inning homer just cleared the right field fence.
MT @ESPNStatsInfo: Cabrera's 1st-inning HR was calculated at 346 feet, his shortest HR since hitting a 344-foot home run on Aug. 27, 2010.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) August 13, 2013
As noted by Chris Iott of Mlive, Cabrera slugged a mere 116 home runs between the two fence scrapers.
Former White Sox boss Ozzie Guillen was suitable impressed by Cabrera.
mlb have to make another league for miguel cabrera omg omg mercy— Ozzie Guillen FND (@OzzieGuillen) August 13, 2013
When Victor Martinez legs out an infield hit, people start to question things ... like physics
Victor Martinez got an infield hit. I fell down just to make sure gravity still works and stuff.— HookSlide (@CabrerasCorner) August 13, 2013
Even You Can't Predict Baseball had to mention it.
Victor Martinez had an infield single.— YCPB (@cantpredictball) August 13, 2013
You Rod Allen quote of the night can also be called general silliness - DRINK:
"With Iglesias & Omar in that infield, do they have enough ketchup, mustard, & relish down in that clubhouse? 'Cause those are 2 hotdogs."
Rod Allen is trying, but still needs a little work on his sabermetrics:
"A 1.000 OPS is good!"
Rod Allen probably wishes he'd have said an .800 OPS is good -- 1,000 is the gold standard.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 13, 2013
For example, Torii Hunter entered tonight with an OPS of .815, which is second on the Tigers (not counting the suspended Jhonny Peralta's .822). Cabrera leads all of MLB at 1.145.
After Jose Iglesias miraculous sixth inning defensive play, this nickname recieved almost unanimous acceptance.
Maybe Iglesias' new nickname should be "That Just Happened"— Noah Trister (@noahtrister) August 13, 2013
This has become the consensus reaction to every Al Alburquerque appearance:
Yeah, how's Evan Reed doing in Toledo? /pulls up google— The #wuaooooo to win (@catswithbats) August 13, 2013
@katieg1975 Hey, at least he'll be unavailable tomorrow.— Patrick OKennedy (@Tigerdog_1) August 13, 2013
This is a conference call to the bullpen: Leyland-Rondon-and-wherever-Evan Reed can be found.— DailyFungo (@DailyFungo) August 13, 2013
Miguel Cabrera: Four games, four home runs.
Victor Martinez: Two hits raised his average to .283. Hard to believe Martinez was hitting .233 on July 1.
Matt Tuiasosopo: Busted out of a slump with two hits, just missing a three run homer by a couple of feet.
Jose Iglesias: His 6th inning defensive gem was incredible.
Al Alburquerque: Has been a gas can for six weeks, entering tonight's game with a 9.24 ERA since July 1. It went up after tonight's one inning, two run performance. Alburquerque is living on big league borrowed time at this point.
Doug Fister: Wasn't at all sharp in his six innings of work, as two wild pitches (a third was later changed to a passed ball) and no strike outs attest.
Top of the order: Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter had triggered the offense during the winning streak. Tonight, they combined on an 0-for-8, three strikeout performance.
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Miguel Cabrera reached base four times, started a ninth inning rally with his second home run in as many at bats against Mariano Rivera, and did it all while playing injured. Cabrera was given the top spot in the PotG balloting over Brayan Pena and Victor Martinez with 59% of the vote.