Anibal Sanchez was lights out for six innings, allowing just one hit. But he threw batting practice in the seventh, the Chicago White Sox taking advantage to score three times, holding on to beat the Detroit Tigers 3-1.
The Tigers had several opportunities to score, but their offense, much like resistance to the Borg, was futile. Detroit hitters were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. But credit has to go the White Sox pitching staff. John Danks (2-0) went toe-to-toe with Sanchez and came out the victor. Danks earned the win by holding the Tigers to one run and six hits over 6 1/3 innings. Closer Matt Lindstrom allowed the tying run to reach base, but held on to earn his second save.
The wheels fell off the Sanchez train in the seventh. He faced five batters, four reaching base and three crossing the plate. Sanchez (0-2) took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits, all but one coming in the seventh. The Tigers' bullpen gave the offense a chance; Ian Krol, Evan Reed and Justin Miller combined to hold the White Sox hitless over the final 2 2/3 innings.
All of the White Sox offense came in a stretch of five batters in the seventh. Jose Abreu and Dayan Viciedo had RBI doubles, the third run scoring on a wild throw by Rajai Davis.
The Tigers had nine hits to the White Sox five, but their sole run scored on an Alex Avila ground out. The only Tiger with two hits was Torii Hunter, who also scored.
The story of the game was simple -- 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. You can't win if you don't score. The Tigers had plenty of opportunities, but when given a scoring opportunity, they could not buy a hit to save their lives. Keep in mind if Miguel Cabrera is hitting like Miguel Cabrera, we aren't discussing the offense coming up short.
The Tigers remain in first place despite the fact they have question marks instead of shortstops, the bullpen is a complete and utter work in progress, and most importantly, Cabrera has yet to start hitting.
But the shortstop position is being addressed, the bullpen is looking far better as of late, and the Cabrera issue should care care of itself. Hall of Fame caliber hitters don't forget how to swing the bat in one offseason. Thinking otherwise is just idiocy.
Anibal Sanchez's command was missing in his last start, hurling 104 pitches in just five innings. He was far more efficient in the first inning tonight, needing only eight pitches to retire the White Sox. That was despite Austin Jackson being charged with an error when a fly ball off the bat of outfielder Jordan Danks glanced off the side of his glove for his third error of the season.
Rajai Davis created a scoring opportunity with two out in the bottom half of the inning. He lead off with a walk, stealing his seventh base of the season with two out.
Martinez at the plate, a minor controversy took place which caused a short delay. Two strikes on Martinez, he swung and there were two different interpretations. Martinez was adamant it was a foul tip, C.B. Bucknor calling it strike three. While Brad Ausmus and Robin Ventura made their cases, the umpiring crew huddled. The final result? Foul ball!
Yet it all became moot when Martinez flew out on the very next pitch. But at the very least Martinez can say he won the argument. Victory for V-Mart!
Bottom of two, (the pitcher named) John Danks pitched himself into a jam, thanks the Devil's tool known as the base on balls. Torii Hunter led off with a single to left, then strolled to third on walks to Jackson and Nick Castellanos.
A rally ensued. That is if you're feeling generous and call one run a "rally." Not helping was the bottom of the Tigers' order being awful at the moment.
Alex Avila is struggling, to the point where a normally patient hitter presses and swings at the first pitch, despite the fact Danks couldn't throw a strike. At least the swing ended in a productive out, Hunter scoring on a ground ball to second. That's where the rally would end.
Andrew Romine at least took a few pitches, but popped up for the second out. Davis decided first-pitch swinging was the way to go, and popped up as well.
Sanchez's frustrating penchant for allowing runners to steal bases at will gave the White Sox a scoring opportunity in the third. One down, Alejandro De Aza walked and stole second. Avila threw a strike to the bag, but De Aza's jump off Sanchez was too much to overcome.
Sanchez was able to pitch around the steal, getting out the inning on a ground ball and strikeout. Which is when it kicked in that Sanchez had yet to allow a base hit.
Am I the only one to notice Sanchez has steadfastly declined to permit a Pale Hose batter to strike the ball and meander safely to 1st?— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) April 21, 2014
Martinez didn't need to argue with Bucknor in the third inning. He slapped a double into the left field corner, the third consecutive inning the Tigers put a runner into scoring position. For the second time in three innings, the runner would be stranded. Hunter struck out to end the inning.
The scoring threats continued in the top of the fourth. Sanchez's no-no talk came to an abrupt end when Marcus Semien led off with no-doubt hit, doubling to left.
Welp, there goes the developing no-hitter. That didn't last long.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 22, 2014
Sanchez proceeded to start another out streak, retiring the side in order.
The score still 1-0 Tigers through five innings, Danks the pitcher and Sanchez settled into a pitchers' duel. Sanchez had tossed just 63 pitches, allowing just one hit and walking another. Despite his spate of second-inning wildness, Danks the pitcher had allowed four hits, walking three, his pitch count a still reasonable 75.
The sixth was more of the same. Sanchez was dealing, striking out a pair in a 1-2-3 inning.
Sanchez absolutely glazed the batter's eyes over with that pitch to end the inning.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 22, 2014
Bottom of six, the Tigers scratched together a two-out opportunity. Jackson singled, Danks the pitcher uncorking a wild pitch to move him to second. But the Tigers continued to flail about with two out and runners in scoring position. Castellanos sent a can of corn to right, ending the inning.
Top of seven, replay came to the fore. After Conor Gillaspie led off with a double, Jose Abreu sent a fly ball down the right field line. Hunter made a sliding attempt, coming up short. But the ball dropped either fair (according to fist base ump Hal Gibson) or foul (Hunter was adamant the ball was foul), then kicked into the stands. The call was RBI ground-rule double.
Ventura has lost a challenge earlier in the game on a bang-bang play at first. Ausmus went for his challenge, and also lost. Replay was just plain inconclusive, so the call stood and the game was tied.
Sanchez did strike out out a PO'ed Dunn, getting the call on a borderline pitch. But Dayan Viciedo made it three hits for the White Sox in the inning with a long RBI double to dead center. What had been a walk in the park for Sanchez was suddenly a battle.
Alexei Ramirez had the fourth hit of the inning when his bouncer snuck through the left side. Viciedo was held at third, but Davis' throw from left would have even given Delmon Young pause. It was ten feet to the first base side of home, neither Avila or Sanchez had a chance to stop it from going to the backstop. Sanchez did make a nice play on the carom, firing home to nail Ramirez at the plate ... or so we thought.
The umpires reviewed the call, replay showing Avila's tag was well up the leg. The call was correctly overturned, Ramirez was ruled safe and the White Sox lead was now 3-1.
With that, after cruising through six, the seventh became Sanchez's Waterloo. His night was over after 6 1/3, replaced by Ian Krol.
Krol did his best to throw gasoline on the flames, his defense forced to act as a fire extinguisher. Krol balked Ramirez to third and plunked De Aza. Cabrera made a great play on pinch-hitter Paul Konerko's foul pop. His back to the plate, Cabrera made an over-the-shoulder catch, quickly turned and fired a strike to Avila. Ramirez had planned on tagging up, but smartly retreated to third.
Jackson flagged down Danks the outfielder's line dive for the third out, allowing Krol to get out of the inning without allowing the White Sox to extend their lead.
But the Tigers were now forced to come from behind, and the offense had done little against Danks the pitcher since scoring their lone run in the second inning.
One down, Romine's looping liner to left dropped for a single. Pitcher Danks' pitch count over 100, Ventura made the call for right-hander Ronald Belisario. Davis immediately greeted him with a soft single to center, Romine advancing to third. Things were looking up ... until they weren't.
Kinsler swung at the first pitch. Just like that, the inning over thanks to a pitcher's BFF. The White Sox turned a 5-4-3 double play to bail out Belisario. The Tigers came up empty with runners in scoring position, now 0-for-7 for the game.
Top of eight, Evan Reed was on the mound for the Tigers and throwing smoke. In his best appearance as a Tiger, a dominant Reed hit 98 on the radar and set the White Sox down in order on a pair of weak ground balls and a strikeout.
With two out in the bottom of the eighth and Belisario on the mound, Hunter's fly to short right dropped in front of Danks the outfielder. His futile dive allowed Hunter to leg out a two-base hit. but as the Tigers had been doing all night, the offense came up short. Jackson struck out on three pitches, dropping the Tigers to 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Dunn led off the ninth was was blown away by a 97 MPH fastball for the first out. Ausmus went back to the pen, calling on Justin Miller. The rookie right-hander looked good in easily retiring Viciedo and Ramirez.
Krol, Reed and Miller shut down the White Sox, not allowing a hit in 2 2/3 innings. The bullpen had done their job. If the Tigers were going to win this game, the offense would have to do theirs.
The Tigers would have to mount a comeback against closer Matt Lindsrom. It's been done, Lindstrom having blown three saves this season.
One down, Avila crushed a Lindstrom fastball, driving it to deep right center. The White Sox caught a break when the ball landed on the warning track and hopped over the wall, turning a triple into a double.
Newest Tiger J.D. Martinez pinch-hit for Romine.The Tigers called Martinez up from Toledo today for just this sort of occasion, one swing of the bat could tie the game. Martinez didn't hit the ball, but did work a full-count walk.
Davis made it 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, flying out to left. It was up to Kinsler, who entered the game hitting .400 in this situation. The game ended in a fitting way. Rain falling, Kinsler bouncing into a fielder's choice, the Tigers wrapping up an 0-for-10 performance with runners in scoring position.
Game over. Your final score is White Sox 3, Tigers 1.
Sometimes the other team out-pitches you. That happened tonight. Though it is much easier when Miguel Cabrera is still trying to get untracked.
Game two between the White Sox and Tigers was supposed to be a battle of aces, lefty Chris Sale (3-0, 2.30 ERA) and Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.08 ERA) taking center stage.
Unfortunately for fans of well-pitched baseball, that highlight-reel matchup has gone south. It now appears to be a mismatch.
The White Sox announced Sale has a sore arm and will miss his next start. A rookie left-hander, 27-year-old Charlie Leesman, will be called up from Triple-A to make Wednesday's start. Leesman has a career 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 career innings.
Verlander's has battled command issues in his last two starts, a lack of control coming to a head against the Indians in his last appearance. Verlander got the W as the Tigers pulled away late in a 7-5 victory. But Verlander was down 3-2 when pulled after five innings, having allowed four walks and a pitch count of 113.
Wednesday's first pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Turns out the Tigers won't have to face one of the best pitchers in this series. Tuesday's starter for the White Sox was going to be Chris Sale, but plans have changed. Before today's game, Robin Ventura announced Sale will be scratched due to general soreness in his left arm. Considering the offense's struggles, the news is quite welcome.
Rajai Davis' steal of second in the first inning was his seventh on the season, the most by a Tigers player in April since Juan Encarnacion stole seven in 1999.
The swipe was also the 16th of the season for Detroit. The 16 steals in April ties for tenth most in club history and are the most since the 1999 team stole 21 bases in April.
The Tigers' steal total for the entirety of 2013 was 35.
Got to love the national baseball media overreacting to Miguel Cabrera's slow start.
Sure it's early and it doesn't mean much. But I can't remember seeing Miguel Cabrera look so helpless.— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) April 22, 2014
Oh, for Pete's....Helpless? I'll take "What's hyperbole?" for $500, Alex.
Torii Hunter: Two hits, scored a run.
Alex Avila: Still not swinging the bat as he's capable, but there were signs of life. Avila drove in the only Tigers run with a ground ball and doubled in the ninth. Also of note, Avila didn't strike out in a game for the first time this season. Avila has played in 13 games, struck out at least once in 11, and the other was a defensive appearance only.
The bullpen: Evan Reed and Justin Miller were damn solid. Especially Reed, who was throwing high 90s gas.
Anabal Sanchez for six innings: Had no-hit stuff. Sanchez was brilliant in holding the White Sox scoreless on one hit.
Anabal Sanchez in the seventh: After six excellent innings, Sanchez tuned into a pumpkin. Faced five batters, allowed four hits, three for extra bases, and two runs.
Miguel Cabrera: Another hitless games drops Cabrera to .206/.275/.333 on the year. If you're wondering what ails the Tigers' offense, it's the .206/.275/.333. It's far too early to worry, but it sure would be nice if Cabrera started hitting like Cabrera.
The offense with runners in scoring position: Futility personified with a miserable 0-for-10 night.
Teams with two players with the same name: Having John Danks and Jordan Danks on the field (Jor and Jo in the box score) at the same time is damned annoying when you're writing a recap. My head asplode.
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GAME 15 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Rick Porcello conquered his Angels demons in a 2-1 win, earning the victory by allowing just one run in seven innings against a team which usually treats him like piñata. Porcello was the runaway winner for player of the game, taking 84% of the vote.