White Sox 6, Tigers 3: Celebration delayed, magic number holds at two in lackluster loss to White Sox

Leon Halip

Anibal Sanchez turned in a rare off performance and the bats could little against three White Sox pitchers, the Tigers dropping the final regular season home game of 2013. The champagne remains on ice for at least one more day.

The Chicago White Sox bounced back from Saturday night's crushing extra innings loss, beating a lollygagging Detroit Tigers in their home season finale, 6-3. Being the Indians completed a four game sweep of the lowly Astros, the Tigers' Magic Number holds steady at two. With six games left to play, the Tigers will have to clinch the Central on the road.

Rookie right-hander Erik Johnson (2-2) held the Tigers to just two runs, scattering nine hits in a career high 6 2/3 innings. Donnie Veal and Matt Lindstrom combined to allow one run and two hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

Tigers' starter Anibal Sanchez (14-8) had a rare off day in taking the loss, pulled after five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. Making a rare appearance, reliever Evan Reed allowed the White Sox to tack on a pair of runs in his 2 2/3 innings of work.

Former Tiger Avisail Garcia continued to make the Tigers' pay for dealing him, leading the White Sox with three hits, two RBIs, scoring a run and taking away a base hit with a diving catch. Jeff Keppinger added three hits and two RBIs. Conor Gillaspie had just one hit, but scored three runs and drove in two on the day for the victorious Pale Hose.

Alex Avila and rookie Nick Castellanos accounted for five of the Tigers' 11 hits. Prince Fielder hit a solo homer and Austin Jackson added a sacrifice fly to drive in the Tigers' runs.

The Tigers fell to the White Sox today, but their final home stand of the season was still a very successful one. They wrap up their season ending home stand 7-3, winning all three series. The Tigers end up 2013 with a 51-30 (.630) home record, compared to their 50-31 home record in both 2011 and 2012. In other words, the Tigers play damn well at at home, even if the the finale for this season was a bust.

In the big scheme of things, this loss means absolutely nothing. The Tigers weren't going to clinch the division anyway, as the Astros were not going to beat a surging Tribe. I'm not thrilled the Tigers lost in such meek fashion. But one game does not a season make. The Tigers will clinch a playoff spot in the next few days, and we can all finalize our post season plans.

The White Sox had help from the umpires and seeing eye singles to take a 1-0 lead top of the first.

One down, Alexei Ramirez's high hopper deflected off the glove of a leaping Anibal Sanchez, good for an infield single. Conor Gillaspie followed with a hard ground ball up the middle, Ramon Santiago starting what appeared to be an inning ending double play. But the only person at Comerica Park who didn't think the inning was over was first base umpire Mark Wegner, who called Gillaspie safe.

Out_medium

Sanchez didn't help matters, wild pitching Gillaspie into scoring position. Avisail Garcia made Sanchez pay for the wild pitch, his chopper up the middle just skipped past an outstretched Omar Infante for an EBI single and 1-0 White Sox lead.

Top of two, Sanchez gave up a one out double to Gordon Beckham. That's where he would remain, Sanchez pitching around the two base hit. Josh Phegley bounced out to third and the still unfortunately named Marcus Semien striking out.

Bottom half of the inning, Alex Avila drilled Erik Johnson's 3-1 fastball on a line into the right field corner for a one out double. Just as the White Sox, the Tigers would squander a scoring opportunity with less than two out. Both Infante and Santiago would fly out, stranding Avila at second.

It was going to be a long and frustrating afternoon.

The Tigers entered the fourth inning still trailing 1-0. After last night's dramatics, the energy at Comerica Park was lacking, to say the very least.

Top of four, Jordan Danks worked a one out walk, Jeff Keppinger singling him to second. Sanchez go the second out of the inning on Beckham's drive to deep center, Danks tagging up and moving to third. Runners on the corners with two down, Sanchez recorded his fifth strikeout, Phegley going down swinging to end the threat.

Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Fielder needed just one pitch to wake up everyone at Comerica. Eyes lighting up at the prospects of what he could do when Johnson served up a low fastball down the middle of the plate, Fielder buggy-whipped a solo shot well over the right field wall. Fielder's 25th homer of the season knotted the game at 1-all (MLB.com video).

Martinez followed up by singling to center. One down, Avila ripped a single to right, a frisky Martinez going from first to third. But the bottom of the order couldn't get the lead run home, Infante hitting a soft liner to third, Santiago bouncing weakly to first,

After five full innings, the Tigers and White Sox were tied 1-1. The Tigers had five hits to the Pale Hose's four, Johnson holding the edge in pitch count over Sanchez, 64-75.

Sanchez found himself in another jam in the fifth, allowing the first two runners to reach base. Leading off, Semien singled to right, then stealing second. Sanchez proceeded to walk De Aza on four pitches.

As usual, allowing the lead off man on base leads to bad things.

One out, Jackson badly misplayed Gillaspie's liner to dead center, breaking in before realizing the drive was  heading over his head. By the time Jackson got the ball back in, Gillaspie was standing on third with a two RBI, bases clearing triple

Garcia drove in the third run of the inning, Don Kelly, Nick Castellanos and Santiago allowing a catchable bloop to drop between them in short left. Garcia ended up with a cheap RBI single, taking second on a needless throw home, the White Sox extending their lead to 4-1.

A not very sharp Sanchez put runners on second and third with two out. Keppinger singled into the hole at short, Garcia holding at third. Keppinger would take second on Sanchez's second wild pitch of the game. But Sanchez finally got out of a sloppy inning, Beckham bouncing out.

The Tigers went down meekly in the fifth, helped by Ramirez not bothering to touch second while turning a double play ball.

Phantom_medium

Regardless, a meh game moved onto the sixth, a meh Tigers down 4-1. A meh Sanchez was pulled after five meh innings and 99 meh pitches. Meh.

The long missing in action Evan Reed took over for Sanchez in the sixth. Reed was making his first appearance on the mound since a garbage time assignment in the brutal 20-4 loss to the Red Sox on September 4.

Reed pitched well, retiring the White Sox in order. Johnson was still motoring along for the White Sox, tossing a 1-2-3 inning of his own. He did get some help, Garica robbing Fielder of a bloop single with a nifty diving catch.

Though I'm thrilled with Jose Iglesias, I can only hope Dave Dombrowski traded the right outfield prospect to get him. That's all Castellanos will ever hear unless he proves he can hit big league pitching.

Reed couldn't replicate his sixth inning in the seventh, the White Sox loading the bases on a1 Gillaspie walk, Garcia single and Danks walk.

The corners pulled in, Keppinger drilled a double down the right field line, two runs scoring to make it 6-1 White Sox. Reed would get out of the inning without further damage, the game not completely out of reach.

Down five, the Tigers were running out of time to get back in the game.

Johnson had never pitched deeper than six innings in his three career starts. Entering the seventh with his pitch count under 90, Robin Ventura was hoping to get one more inning out of his rookie hurler.

Instead, Johnson pitched himself into a heap o' trouble. Avila lead off with a single, Infante and Castellanos coming through with one out singles to load the bases for Jackson. Avila would score on Jackson's sacrifice fly, the White Sox happy to trade an out for a run.

Strategy ensued.

Dirks due up, Ventura elected to make a pitching change. Wanting a lefty-lefty match up, he called for Donnie Veal out of the bullpen. Jim Leyland countered by pinch hitting with right-hand hitting Torii Hunter. The encounter lasted all of one pitch, Veal the victor. Hunter looped a liner to second, ending the threat.

Reed was the sacrificial arm, earning a third inning of work in the eighth. Once again, he pitched himself into a jam. De Aza singled with one out, then swiping second (number two on the day for the White Sox). With two out, Leyland went with another reliever who won't be on the post season roster, lefty Darin Downs. Asked to get one out for a second straight game, Down did just that, Gillaspie bouncing out to strand De Aza.

Top of nine and one out, Downs was still on the mound, forced to pitch around Infante's second error in two games. He ended the inning with a pair of fly balls, keeping the Tigers within shouting distance at four runs down.

The Tigers losing 6-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Veal remained on the mound for the White Sox. Brayan Pena pinch hit for Avila. Pena kept hope alive with a long double to dead center. Ventura made another change, Matt Lindstrom replacing Veal. Infante greeted the latest reliever by singling the Food Truck to third, where he would score when Santiago bounced into a fielder's choice.

That was the Tigers' last gasp. Jackson struck out to end the game, series, home stand and home season.

Game over. Your final score is White Sox 6, Tigers 3. (Sigh)

Indeed, a celebration will likely go down in Minnesota.

Despite today's loss, the Tigers are playing well to end the season, 9-3 in their last 12. Today's loss did drop their record to 91-65 (.583). The 92-63 (.594) Athletics play the Twins late Sunday afternoon, and are currently 1 1/2 games up on Detroit for the second best record in the AL and home field in the ALDS. As for the Central, with six games remaining the Tigers' have a five game lead on the Tribe. The Indians currently hold the number two wild card slot, 1/2 game back of the Rays.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Bottom of the first, there was another blown call. Andy Dirks ducked out of the way of Gordon Beckham's tag, and was never touched. He was called out regardless.

Dirks_medium

Whoops.

Prince Fielder's bat has been near unstoppable in September, entering today's action hitting .387/.427/.600, a 1.027 OPS.  What's amazing is that's still not as good as the numbers Miguel Cabrera put up for three straight months, hitting .357/.452/.714, a 1.166 OPS from May 1 to August 31.

Today was Evan Reed's first appearance with a game still in doubt since July 25. In his last three appearances, the average margin of victory was 11.7 runs (Tigers were 2-1 in those three games).

Another sellout crowd at Comerica Park means the Tigers ended their regular season with the second highest attendance total in franchise history, 3,083,397. Not too shabby.

On the injury front, things are coming up Milhouse.

THREE ROARS:

Alex Avila: Three hits and a run scored for the resurgent Avila.

Nick Castellanos: First multi-hit game of his career.

Darin Downs: Shutout the White Sox over the final 1 1/3 innings. Downs hasn't pitched in the big leagues since July. In two appearances against the White Sox this weekend, the lefty did not allow a base runner.

THREE HISSES:

Anibal Sanchez: Even the best have an off afternoon. Sanchez had allowed just three runs in his previous 20 2/3 innings. today, he gave up four in five innings. It happens.

Evan Reed: Allowed a pair of runs in his relief stint. Though I'm not going to come down hard on a pitcher who is used less often than Leyland uses nicotine patches.

The Tigers: Bunch of lollyaggers! Some of it may be blamed on Johnson, some due to a victory hangover from last night's miracle win, but the Tigers didn't show much energy or urgency in falling to the White Sox (Honestly, I felt the same way). You're going to have a few days like this over a long season.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 541
Total commenters 25
Commenter list AwesomeJackson, BadCompany22, BigAl, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, FrogTownFan, Grzesio, HookSlide, Jacob30, Kurt Mensching, MSUDersh, NCDee, Rob Rogacki, SabreRoseTiger, SanDiegoMick, Singledigit, SpartanHT, Tigerdog1, Verlanderful, dishnet34, eromnek, frisbeepilot, rbbaker, stevenyc, swish330
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/22/4758524/game-156-white-sox-at-tigers-1-08-pmhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/22/4759272/game-156-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 SabreRoseTiger 90
2 eromnek 65
3 SpartanHT 56
4 stevenyc 55
5 Tigerdog1 53
6 FrogTownFan 45
7 Singledigit 25
8 NCDee 20
9 SanDiegoMick 17
10 Rob Rogacki 15

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
1 stevenyc Why can't this team ever score until the late innings?
1 NCDee I don't know how to say this without sounding cold and unfeeling
1 Designated for Assignment I'm glad I never became a Lions fan
1 FrogTownFan

GAME 155 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

There were numerous deserving candidates in Saturday's wild come-from-behind, walk off victory. But the comeback doesn't happen without Andy Dirks' pinch hit three run homer. Dirks was rewarded with a win in the PotG poll, topping the White Sox's bullpen 55%-26%.

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