The Detroit Tigers snapped their three game losing streak, beating the Chicago White Sox in come-from-behind fashion 6-4. The Tigers end their long ten game road trip at 6-4, and will now prepare for five games in four days with the Royals.
After one inning, winning pitcher Rick Pocello (9-6) didn't look long for the game, allowing three runs on four hits. But those three runs would be all Porcello would allow, ultimately scattering 11 singles over six innings. The Tigers would use five pitchers overall, closer Joaquin Benoit making his first appearance in a week. Thanks to a rare eighth inning appearance, Benoit recorded the final five outs, earning his 15th save of the season.
White Sox starter and loser John Danks (2-10) pitched into the eighth, allowing six runs and nine hits in 7 1/3 innings of work.
Miguel Cabrera slugged his fifth home run in six games, driving in three with his third inning big fly. Omar Infante was the only Tiger to have more than one hit, singling twice while driving in a run.
The White Sox reached double digit hits with 14, but they were all singles. Of the White Sox's last 24 hits in the series, only one was for extra bases. Alexei Ramírez, Avisail Garcia and Jeff Keppinger all had two hits and an RBI, Gordan Beckham adding three hits.
The road trip now in the rear view, the Tigers get a long dose of home cooking, 15 of their next 18 at home. Being the Tigers are sailing along at Comerica, winning at .661 clip, it bodes very well for the next few weeks.
Facing John Danks, the Tigers continued their series long squandering ways in the first inning. Torii Hunter walked with one out, Prince Fielder singled him to second after two were down. Victor Martinez could not come through with a two out hit, bouncing to short.
Rick Porcello found himself in a first inning jam, battling his control. Going to a three ball count against three of the first four batters he faced, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out. Alejandro De Aza led off with a single, Alexei Ramirez reached on a one out infield single to the left side. Adam Dunn reached a true outcome with a walk, loading the bases for ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia.
Make it a three ball count on four of five White Sox, Porcello going to full count on Garcia. Porcello got the ground ball he needed, but it was just far enough toward the second base bag, Jose Iglesias was forced to make a diving stop. But Iglesias hurried this throw, using his glove to flip the ball to Omar Infante, who could not hold on. Everyone was safe, Garcia credited with an RBI infield single.
Jeff Keppinger followed with a sacrifice fly to right center, Ramirez scoring to make a 2-0 White Sox game. A bad inning for Porcello got worse, the fifth batter to reach a three ball count, Conor Gillaspie, ripped a 3-0 to right, Dunn crossing the plate, the White Sox up 3-0.
Combining a little bad luck with a severe lack of command equaled a 37 pitch inning for Porcello. Coming off an extra innings loss and facing five games in four days with the Royals, the last thing the Tigers need would be a short outing from Porcello.
Top of two, the White Sox countered Porcello's 40 pitch marathon inning by Danks needing just nine pitches in a 1-2-3 inning.
Porcello had a much better second inning, allowing a single but needing only 13 pitches to get three outs.
Despite the bad start, down 3-0, the Tigers can never be considered out of game thanks to one man. Miguel Cabrera. We saw anonther exaamnple as to why in the top of the third. Bryan Holaday led off with a single through the hole in the left side. Austin Jackson followed with a single to right, Holaday advancing to third.
Danks then became the latest victim of the rampaging Cabrera. First pitch swinging, Cabrera got under a 92 MPH fastball, but also got most of it, launching a long, high fly to deep left, clearing the wall to the right of the 330' mark with ease. Home run number 38 for the best hitter in baseball stunningly knotted the game at 3-all (MLB.com video).
Porcello had settled down after a scary long 37 pitch first inning, holding the White Sox scoreless while averaging 12 pitches an inning over the second and third.
If you take Cabrera out of the equation, Danks was otherwise cruising. After giving up a three spot in the third, Danks tossed a seven pitch fourth inning, setting the Tigers down in order. It was the second inning for Danks where he needed nine pitches or less to retire the side.
Porcello found two out trouble in the fourth. The other Danks, Jordan, singled with one out, Gordon Beckham doing the sam after two were down. Porcello pitched out the mini-jam when Ramirez flew out to center. Porcello wasn't going to go deep into the game, but at 77 pitches though four, he was in far better shape than three innings prior.
Hunter singled with two out in the fifth, taking second on a wild pitch. With first base open, rather than walk Cabrera, Danks went after him. This time, Danks won the battle, striking out Cabrera to the end the threat.
The score still tied at 3-all, Porcello had stopped allowing runs but was still allowing plenty of hits and base runners. Bottom of five, the White Sox put a runner in scoring position with one out. Dunn led off with a single, taking second Keppinger's single (which was their tenth hit of the game, all singles). As he had in every inning but the first, Porcello would pitch out of trouble. Gillaspie flew out to left, Tyler Flowers bouncing to short.
One out in the sixth, the Tigers threatened to take the lead. Martinez singled with one out. Danks broke Matt Tuiasosopo's bat, but it died a hero. Tuiasosopo was able to muscle a dribbler through the right side. The ball rolled slowly into short right, which allowed Martinez to race (well, figuratively) to third. Infante, again showing why his bat was sorely missed, singled past a lunging Ramirez. The Tigers' third straight single gave them their first lead of the game at 4-3 (MLB.com video).
Two out, Danks loaded the bases by hitting Holaday with a pitch. Actually, he brushed Holaday's jersey, but it's still a hit by pitch.Then the White Sox's defense, or lack thereof, came to the fore.
Gillaspie made a nice diving stop at third base on Jackson's ground ball down the line. But his throw bounced to Keppinger at first, the utility man unable to handle the in-between hop. The bases loaded throwing error allowed both Tuiasosopo and Infante to cross the plate. Instead of an inning ending play, the Tigers had tacked on a pair of runs, upping their lead to 6-3.
After one inning, 37 pitches and three runs, it appeared Porcello was not long for the game. Five innings later, Porcello was wrapping up a six inning quality start, having kept the Tigers in the game, allowing his offense to mount a comeback by scoring six unanswered runs.
Drew Smyly took the mound for the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh. The paper cutting continued, Dunn leading off, reaching base on the White Sox's 12th single of the game, and third of the infield variety. The inning got a bit tense when Smyly fell behind Garcia 3-1, but a 5-4-3 double play emptied the bases. Just as everyone relaxed, the normally sure handed Iglesias extended the inning on what should have been the third out, booting Keppinger's slow roller.
Smyly proceeded to pitch himself back into trouble, walking Gillaspie. Strategy ensued.
Looking to tie the game on one swing, Robin Ventura called on the right-handed batting Tiger Killer, Dayan Viciedo, to pinch hit for Flowers. Viciedo has nine homers on the season, but his last four have all come against the Tigers. Jim Leyland went back to his bullpen for ... no, not Jose Veras. Bruce Rondon? Nope. Not even Jeremy Bonderman. Leyland went with Al Alburquerque, who has a 10.80 ERA on the current road trip.
Asked to get just one out, Alburquerque came through. Viciedo flew out to center, ending a surprisingly stressful inning.
Danks pitched into the eighth, Ventura finally pulling his starter when Infante singled with one out. Right-hander Ramon Troncoso took over, ending the inning with help from sloppy Tigers' base running.
Iglesias on first after a fielder's choice, Holaday singled under the glove of Gillaspie. Once the ball glanced off Gillaspie's glove, Ramirez smartly caught Iglesias straying too far off second, tagged out in a rundown. It was easily the young shortstop's worst inning as a Tiger - a fielding error in the top half, a base running blunder in the bottom half.
Bottom of eight, Veras was pitching in the setup role. After getting the first out of the inning, Veras had trouble finding the strike zone. He walked De Aza, who proceeded to steal second. He then walked Beckham on five pitches, bringing the tying run to the plate in Ramirez.
The White Sox pulled to within two when a fooled Ramirez managed to drop a bloop RBI single in short right, making it a 6-4 game. Once again, late game walks were keeping the opposition in the game.
Two on, still one out and the slugging Dunn on deck, Leyland had enough relief pitching foolishness. Not having used Joaquin Benoit since August 7 (because you ONLY use your best reliever when there's a late lead, apparently it's in the rules), Leyland made the call. Benoit would come on for a five out save.
Benoit has dominated Dunn over the years, 0-for-7 with five strikeouts. The dominance continued, Benoit struck out Dunn swinging on four pitches. Garcia did the same, Benoit blowing a fastball by the young outfielder to end the inning, the Tigers up two at 6-4.
Bottom of the ninth and looking to wrap up a multiple inning save, Benoit did not get off to a good start. Keppinger led off with a single, Gillaspie earning a base on balls. Suddenly, Josh Phegley was the winning run at the plate. Ventura, playing for the tie, gave the Tigers a free out by having Phegley move the runners 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt.
The Whte Sox were now a Jordan Danks base hit away from tying the game at 6-all. Instead, the Tigers were found themselves one out away from a win, Benoit striking out Danks swinging.
The White Sox's final hope was last night's hero, De Aza. There would be no heroics this afternoon, De Aza bouncing out to Infante.
The Tigers salvage the final game of the series. Your final score is Tigers 6, White Sox 4.
At 70-49, the Tigers are the just the second team in the AL to reach the 70 win mark. Their 49 losses are tied with the Red Sox for the least in the AL. As for the Central standings, the third place Royals lost this afternoon, falling to 7 1/2 games back of the Tigers. They are slowly coming back to earth, 6-4 over ten games, only 2-3 in their last five. The second place Indians are 3-7 in their last ten, but remain six games out after beating the Twins in extra innings.
The Tigers' long road trip over, they head home having played 13 of their 18 games in 17 days stretch. They have five games left to play before their next day off, all against the Royals. Entering play Wednesday, the Tigers have a .708 second half winning percentage. But the Royals have been even better, playing at a .760 clip.
The first game between two of the hotter teams in baseball has Royals' right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (12-8, 4.10 ERA) taking on Anibal Sanchez (10-7, 2.58 ERA). Guthrie suffered his first loss since the mid-season break (4-1, 3.55 ERA post All-Star game) in his last start, needing 123 pitches to get through six innings in a loss to the Red Sox. Sanchez has been excellent of late, 4-1, 1.60 in his last five starts, all of six or more innings and two or fewer runs. First pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Spoiled by a marvelous stretch where the Tigers won 17-of-19, then rocked by losing three straight games, some perspective is needed for the Tigers' fan base.
If you win at a .600 or better clip at home and .500 or better clip away you win 90+. Guess what? Tigers on pace for all of those so shut up— Jeremy (@puncakes_) August 14, 2013
Miguel Cabrera is a special hitter. His third inning Earl Weaver Special was his 38th of the season. But 21 of those either tied the game or gave the Tigers a lead.
In his career, Cabrera's home runs have put his team into a tie or ahead around 44% of the time. This year, 55%— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) August 14, 2013
The home run was also on the first pitch he faced, which Cabrera has been crushing in 2013.
Miggy is batting .481 against the first pitch this season. #Tigers— Will Kunkel (@KunkelW) August 14, 2013
Speaking of Tigers who bat in the middle of the order...
Prince Fielder last homered on July 24. He has had 80 homerless at bats since. Miguel Cabrera has seven homers in 49 at bats since. #tigers— Garret Craig (@garretkc) August 14, 2013
Prince Fielder's bat has perked up a little on the road trip, hitting .286/.333/.405 in his last nine games. But as the slugging percentage suggest, the power has yet to return.
Yes, Castellanos is NOT in lineup. No wrap on arm today. AND after shagging in OF, he's taking IF grounders right now.— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) August 14013
Post game, Jim Leyland admitted Cabrera was very banged up.
"The shin is all black and blue. It's terrible, terrible looking. He looked a little bit better today, but the knee is still a little bit sore. It is what it is. As the manager, you almost feel bad, to be honest with you, playing him. I can see that he's hurting some. He wanted to play today, I put him in there."
Rick Porcello: Looked to be toast after a brutal 37 pitch, three run first inning. Despite allowing 11 hits (all singles), Porcello did not give up another run, posting a quality start out of nowhere. Six innings and three earned runs is considered a quality start, no matter how you get there.
Miguel Cabrera: Five home runs in six games gives the walking wounded Cabrera 38 homers and 114 RBIs.
Joaquin Benoit: After not having pitched since August 7, Benoit nailed down a rare five out save. What's more telling about the unwritten rules of bullpen use is the Tigers' best reliever hadn't pitched in a week!
Omar Infante: Two more hits and another RBI, showing just how badly his bat was missed in the bottom of the order. Infante was 5-for-9 with two RBIs in the last two games of the series.
Jose Iglesias: Had his worst game as a Tiger with an error, a base running blunder and a 0-for-4 day at the plate.
Jose Veras: Unable to find the strike zone in the eighth, Veras needed to be bailed out by Benoit. After walking just two in his first eight appearances as a Tiger, Veras doubled that total in 1/3 of an inning today.
Avisail Garcia: In the final two games of the series, the ex-Tiger made an impact, 4-for-9 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
The recently returned from injury Omar Infatnte's three hits and an RBI pushed the Tigers' second baseman to the top of the PotG polling, taking 45% of the vote.