Tigers 1, White Sox 0: Anibal Sanchez wins old-school pitcher's duel

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Anibal Sanchez out pitched Jose Quintana to earn a career high 14th win. He given just enough run support thanks to Omar Infante's eighth inning RBI single. The 1-0 Tigers victory increases their AL Central lead to 6 1/2 games with 16 to play.


Final - 9.11.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 10 0
Chicago White Sox 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
WP: Anibal Sanchez (14 - 7)
SV: Joaquin Benoit (18)
LP: Matt Lindstrom (2 - 4)

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The Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox had an old-school pitcher's duel between Anibal Sanchez and Jose Quintana. But it would be the bullpens which would make the difference, the Tigers scratching across an eighth inning run against reliever Matt Lindstrom, while their own bullpen slammed the door on the White Sox in a 1-0 victory. The win gives the Tigers a bit of breathing room over the second place Indians, their lead in the Central extended to 6 1/2 games.

Sanchez (14-7) isn't accustomed to receiving much in the way of run support. He got the bare minimum tonight, one run was all he needed. Sanchez shutout the White Sox on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out ten. The Tigers' starter received ample support from the pen, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit combining to retire the last five White Sox in order. Benoit earned his 18th save, converting his first opportunity since August 24.

Quintana went pitch-for-pitch with Sanchez, and was better than the lousy White Sox deserved. Their starter was excellent, shutting out the Tigers on five hits over seven innings.The losing pitcher would be Lindstrom (2-4), who allowed three eighth inning singles to account for the one Tigers' run.

That one run came off the bat of Omar Infante, his RBI single supplying all the offense the Tigers would need. The Tigers had ten hits total, Infante and Hunter each with two. The White Sox had just five singles on the night, Leury Garcia leading the way with three.

I remember the back and forth last off-season over the Tigers retaining the services of Sanchez, then a free agent. The big question being, would he be worth the money? I doubt anyone would say "No" at this point. Sanchez may not win the AL Cy Young. But he will receive votes, and they will be well deserved.

Jose Quintana battled both the Tigers and his command in the top of the first, and somehow managed to win both.

Austin Jackson struck out, but Quintana needed eight pitches to do so. Torii Hunter ripped a single to center, followed by Miguel Cabrera working a base on balls. Make it eight straight balls from Quintana, walking Prince Fielder on four pitches, loading the bases.

Quintana threw ten straight pitches out of the strike zone before Martinez fouled off a 2-0 pitch.  He swung at the next two pitches as well, popping up for the second out. Martinez's flame out left it up to rookie Nick Castellanos. The count 2-2, Castellanos got all of a breaking ball, but was too far in front of it, his a foul home run distance.

But Castellanos couldn't straighten it out. In fact, he didn't hit the ball, striking out on a 3-2 pitch to strand three. Despite having Quintana on the ropes, making him throw 33 pitch with some good at bats (Martinez's excluded) the Tigers had blown a golden opportunity.

Bottom of two, Anibal Sanchez found himself in a jam as well, allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base. Leury Garcia singled to short, then stole second before Jordan Danks walked. Fielder allowed Alexei Ramirez's foul pop to drop in shallow right field foul territory (a play a better fielding first baseman makes). But Sanchez shook it off, striking out Ramirez for the first out.

The next two outs came quickly, thanks to Cabrera's back handed stab of Paul Konerko's one-hopper, starting a 5-4-3 double play to bail Sanchez out of further trouble.

One down in the second, Alex Avila's (entering the game hitting .322 in the second half) line drive one-hopped the right field wall for a double. Jackson then smoked a hard hit two-hopper just to the left of Ramirez at short. The stone handed Ramirez booted it, the E6 putting runners on the corners for Hunter.

Hunter (coming into tonight hitting .148 on the road trip) did something he's done far too often as of late, striking out with a runner in scoring position.

Bottom of three and the game still scoreless, Sanchez gave up a lead off single to Josh Phegley and a one out single to Leury Garcia. Danks couldn't hold up on a full count breaking ball out of the zone for the second out. Sanchez deftly pitched out of trouble, Ramirez bouncing out to Cabrera.

In the meantime, having let Qunitana off the hook, the Tigers were now struggling against the 24 year old lefty. After his 33 pitch first inning, Qunitana needed just 35 more to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard through four innings.

In other words, the Tigers facing a left-handed pitcher equals DOOOOOOM.

The game had turned into a pitcher's duel, though Sanchez was battling occasional bouts with his command. One out in the fifth, he walked Phegley, who would (of course) steal second. Two down, the Garcia who is not an ex-Tiger hit a bouncer up the middle. Jose Iglesias' remarkable range saved a run, but the other Garcia beat his throw for his third straight single, putting runners on the corners. The other Garica would (of course) steal second, the third of the game for the Pale Hose.

Sanchez then upped the ante by walking Danks. The bases loaded for Ramirez, Sanchez retired him for the third straight at bat on a ground ball to Iglesias.

The game still lacked a run of any sort through five full innings, the Tigers with three hits to the White Sox's four.

Cabrera led off the sixth by sending a line drive off the right field fence. Being his injured legs work about  as well as those of a 90 year old with emphysema, it was good for just a single.

Fielder made a bid, but his fly to right field corner died on the warning track, Dayan Viciedo flagging it down for the first out. The Tigers' glaring lack of speed cost them a base runner when third baseman Marcus Semien was unable to handle Martinez's hard ground ball to the hot corner. Yet he Semien had plenty of time to run the ball down and throw out Martinez by a step.

Cabrera now on second, Castellanos stranded his third runner in scoring position, flying out to right.

It was becoming one of THOSE games. It definitely was for Sanchez, who tossed a 1-2-3 sixth while receiving absolutely no run support.

His pitch count over 90, Quintana was still on the mound to open the seventh. Omar Infante led off by lining a double into the left field corner. Avila didn't get a hit, but he did have a productive out with a ground ball to the right side.

One out, the infield was in with Iglesias at the plate. Therw would be no squeeze play, though the Tigers might have been better served to try. In an awful at bat, Iglesias swung at a chin high fastball for strike three, leaving it up to Jackson.

Needing one strike to get out of the inning Quiniana took the bat out of Jackson's hands by hitting him. Considering Hunter's recent struggles, plunking Jackson worked out well for White Sox. For the second time in the game Hunter stranded a runner in scoring position, the other Garcia charging Hunter's chopper over the mound, his quick snap throw ending the inning. It looked like a play Hunter could beat out, at least a bang-bang play, but it really wasn't that close.

Bottom of seven, Sanchez continued to shrug off the lack of support by striking out two while setting the side down in order.

Qunitana having thrown 114 pitches, Robin Ventura pulled his starter for setup man Matt Lindstrom. One out, Lindstrom gave up back-to-back singles to Fielder and Martinez. Castellanos' bad night at the plate continued, stranding another runner in scoring position on a can of corn to right.

On the verge of a squander, a Tiger FINALLY, THANKFULLY came through with a big two out hit. Infante didn't hit Lindstrom's slider hard, but his ground ball found the hole in the left side for a single, Fielder sliding home without a throw. The Tigers had stitched together three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

Lindstrom got the hook, Ventura replacing him with lefty Donnie Veal. Avila at the plate,Veal wild pitched both runners into scoring position. But Avila could not make Veal pay for his mistake, badly fooled while meekly waving at strike three.

As nice as a couple of insurance runs would have been...

With a one run lead int he eighth, pitch count still reasonable at 106, and having retired seven straight, Jim Leyland allowed Sanchez to stay on the mound. After Sanchez struck out the other Garcia (K number ten), Danks looped a single over second. The odds Danks was running? 100%.

He was, though it didn't make any difference. Danks took off on a 3-1 pitch (and got a big jump), but Sanchez walked Ramirez.

Two on, one out and Konerko at the plate, Leyland replaced Sanchez with Jose Veras. Veras threw four straight strikes, but at least home plate ump Larry Vanover called the final three. Veras had done the job by striking out Konerko. But Leyland wouldn't ride the veteran reliever.  He was in Captain Hook mode, calling on Drew Smyly to face Mr. Three True Outcomes.

Four pitches into the at bat we got our true outcome. Smyly ending the inning with a strikeout, Avila holding on to Dunn's foul tip. Getting a couple of huge outs, Veras and Smyly had stranded a pair, the Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead entering the ninth.

Ventura went back to the pen, rookie right-hander Jake Petricka getting the ninth inning call. The Tigers put together a one out threat on back-to-back singles by Jackson and Hunter. But Ramirez was able to turn one of the more clumsy looking double plays you'll ever see on Cabrera's ground ball to short, ending any shot at an insurance run. The only reason it was a 6-4-3 double play was Cabrera's utter inability to move.

Still holding onto the 1-0 lead with a death grip, the last three outs were on the shoulders of Joaquin Benoit. It was his first shot at a save since earning his 17th on August 24 against the Mets. That's sixteen games without a save opportunity.

Avisail Garcia led off, worked the count to 3-2, then popped up what would have been ball four.  Viciedo would have hit a home run in a stovepipe, but the game was being played on a baseball diamond. A mile high pop up to short left was the second out.

Benoit broke out the fist pump when he locked up save number 18 by striking out Phegley on three pitches.

GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 1, White Sox 0.

One word. WHEW.

The 84-62 (.575) Tigers' Magic Number? It's down to 11 with 16 yet to play. After the scare of their lead falling to it's lowest in over a month at 4 1/2 games on Monday, the Tigers have rebounded nicely. They won their series with the White Sox, end the road trip at a serviceable 4-5 and now hold a 6 1/2 game advantage of the Indians, with help from the Royals ... who just happen to their next opponent, and have a legit shot at a wild card berth.

Thursday is a much deserved day off (YAY!). Friday kicks of the home stretch, the 2013 regular season coming to an end with 16 games in 17 days. Friday is also the beginning of the final home stand of the season, ten games in length.  The Tigers' first three games of the home stand are (Thank goodness!) their final three games of 2013 with one of the biggest thorns in their side, the Kansas City Royals.

The Tigers do catch a couple of breaks in the pitching match ups. They will miss Royals ace James Shields, who did the Tigers a solid by beating the Indians Wednesday afternoon. Manager Ned Yost also elected to skip Danny Duffy's next scheduled start, which would have been Friday night at Comerica Park. In his two starts versus the Tigers, Duffy has allowed just three hits in 10 1/3 innings, both Royals wins.

Royals at Tigers pitching probables:

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

In midst of a brutal slump, the only thing keeping Torii Hunter's second half numbers looking semi-respectable is his power. His batting average post All-Star break is just .263, but more startling is a God awful .291 on base percentage. But Hunter is slugging the same he did in the first half, .458. The veteran right fielder has been streaky all season long, so let's hope Hunter pulls out of this funk before October. Tonight's 2-for-5 game could be the start of shaking off said funk.

You'll often hear fans clamor for the Tigers to play Victor Martinez or Brayan Pena behind the plate because "Alex Avila can't hit." Obviously, they haven't noticed Avila is no longer in danger of ending his season under the Mendoza Line, and has turned his year around. In the second half (admittedly a somewhat smaller sample size due to his concussion), Avila is hitting .322/.385/.506, for a slick .891 post All-Star game OPS.

Trivia_medium

It's getting late in the season, FSD is grasping at straws like the rest of us.

While Jose Iglesias was bouncing out in the top of the ninth, the always classy White Sox fans (what very few there were in attendance, unless they were disguised as green seats) were keeping themselves entertained (as the White Sox sure aren't) with a "Detroit's Bankrupt" chant.

When the bankrupt chant petered out, the handful of Sox fans left in the Cell broke out the old standby - "DETROIT SUCKS!" Now that's more like it, go with the classics!

If you haven't noticed, the AL wild card race is going to be bananas.

THREE ROARS:

Anibal Sanchez: His 7 1/3 shutout innings lowered his AL leading ERA to a nice, shiny 2.50. Sanchez's 14th victory is a career high.

Omar Infante: I'd like to personally thank Infante for giving the Tigers the winning margin in a game which looked bound for extra innings.

Joaquin Benoit: Hard to believe Benoit went more than two weeks without a save opportunity. Made the most of this one with an easy 1-2-3 ninth inning.

THREE HISSES:

LOBsters: The Tigers were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. I would again like to thank Mr. Infante for his prowess with a wooden stick.

Left-handed pitching: The Tigers' kryptonite.

Those wanting to rush Nick Castellanos: The only way Castellanos makes it on the playoff roster is if he hits. Tonight, he stranded a runner in scoring position in three different at bats. Jhonny Peralta coming off the bench in October is a far safer option.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,281
Total commenters 40
Commenter list Alex Baker, AwesomeJackson, BadCompany22, BigAl, Cabbylander, Canadian Molasses Runner, Chadster, DJ Screw, Fielder'sChoice, JWurm, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Jim O'Dutchmen, Joaquin on Sunshine, MSUDersh, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, MotorCityCat, NCDee, Rob Rogacki, SabreRoseTiger, SanDiegoMick, Scherzerblueeye, Singledigit, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Tigerdog1, Verlanderful, XFizzle, adam.sanders.6661, beelze, draykov44, frisbeepilot, josejose50, kland83, knucklescarbone, madpoopz, onepartloss, rbbaker, stevenyc, swish330
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/11/4719644/game-146-tigers-at-white-sox-8-10-p-m?login=1378943820http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/11/4721276/game-146-overflowhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/11/4721554/game-146-overflow-2

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 SabreRoseTiger 117
2 SpartanHT 114
3 SanDiegoMick 111
4 stevenyc 87
5 Scherzerblueeye 83
6 Jacob30 65
7 frisbeepilot 61
8 Tigerdog1 56
9 MSUDersh 53
10 Joaquin on Sunshine 53

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
4 stevenyc New skyline, hope you like it
3 SpartanHT To Infante, and beyond!!!
3 NCDee For old times' sake -- CRAM IT, HAWK!
2 Rob Rogacki If you give up a homer to a pitcher, you're not allowed to be mad at anything he does

GAME 145 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Rick Porcello's allowed just one run in a dominant victory over the White Sox. It was also his first career complete game, pushing him over the top in the PotG balloting, carrying 86% of the vote.

More Roars

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