Tigers 4, White Sox 3: Bryan Holaday squeeze bunt gives Detroit come-from-behind win

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Tigers' backup catcher Bryan Holaday wasn't supposed to play tonight. Put into the lineup at the last minute, Holaday ended up with two hits, driving home the game winner with a ninth-inning squeeze bunt.

Facing a 3-0 third-inning deficit, the Detroit Tigers rallied and capped off their comeback on Bryan Holaday's game-winning squeeze bunt with two out in the ninth to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3.

Holaday was a late addition to the the Tigers' starting lineup. He replaced Alex Avila, who was a late scratch due to back spasms.

Both starting pitchers threw well; neither starting pitcher was around to get a decision.

For the Tigers, Justin Verlander pitched seven full innings, allowing three runs, six hits and three walks and striking out four. All three runs and four of the hits came in the third inning. The White Sox's Jose Quintana gave up three runs and eight hits, but also struck out ten and didn't walk a soul in his six solid innings of work.

"He's got a nasty sinker and I figured I could lay down a pretty good bunt." -Bryan Holaday on his game-winning squeeze bunt

In a battle of the much-maligned bullpens, it would be the Tigers' which held up. Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan held the White Sox scoreless over the final two innings. Chamberlain got the win while Nathan recorded his fifth save of the season.

The White Sox tried to get two scoreless innings out of Ronald Belisario. They got only one. Belisario was victimized by Holaday's bunt, but it was Dayan Viciedo dropping Austin Jackson's fly ball for a three-base error which gave the Tigers the opportunity to pull it off.

The Tigers struck out 14 times, but managed to out hit the White Sox 9-7. Holaday led the way with two hits, a stolen base and the game-winning RBI. Victor Martinez had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson each added RBI singles.

Of the White Sox's seven hits, four were for extra bases. Adam Eaton and Adam Dunn had RBI doubles, Gordon Beckham adding an RBI single for Chicago.

The rain started to come down during the Tigers' uneventful top of the first against Jose Quintana. The tarp was called onto the field as the Justin Verlander was preparing to take the mound the bottom half of the inning.

After a 21-minute delay, the game restarted with Verlander hitting mid-90s on the radar in a 1-2-3 inning. All were fly balls hit deep, but they look like pop ups in the box score.

Quintana was dominant over the first two innings, allowing a Miguel Cabrera infield single while recording five strikeouts. Nick Castellanos at least jacked up Quintana's pitch count. He struck out to end the second, but it did take nine pitches.

While the Tigers were unable to lay off Quintana's high fastball, Verlander was getting high fly-ball outs. The first seven outs recorded were of the fly ball variety. But with one down in the third, the White Sox started to hit the ball on a line, putting a crooked number on the scoreboard.

Marcus Semien bounced a single through the left side. Adam Eaton lined a double into the left field corner, Semien scoring all the way from first. Gordon Beckham lined a single to right, Eaton crossing the plate to make it 2-0 White Sox. Hunter's ridiculous throw home would have required a cutoff man 15 feet tall (or Hunter has forgotten cutoff men exist altogether, as we've seen him do this constantly), which allowed Beckham to advance to second.

With two down, Adam Dunn avoided one of the three true outcomes with an RBI double into the right field corner, giving the White Sox a 3-0 lead.

Second time through the order, the Tigers started to figure out Quintana. Ian Kinsler led off the fourth with a single. Cabrera missed a home run by a couple of feet, his fly ball dying on the center-field warning track for the first out of the inning.

"He's a five-tool player!" -Torii Hunter, in praise of Holaday

The rain picking up, Quintana wild-pitched Kinsler into scoring position. Victor Martinez made him pay with an RBI single down the left field line (anyone other than Martinez has a two-base hit, but hey), pulling the Tigers within two at 3-1.

While the rain turned to drizzle, then came to an end, Verlander had settled in and and Quintana remained a strikeout machine. The score remained 3-1 White Sox as the game entered the sixth.

Since Martinez's RBI single in the fourth, Quintana had retired seven straight. The streak ended when Cabrera singled with two down in the sixth. The Tigers started a hit streak when Martinez followed with his second straight single, giving Hunter a two-out RBI opportunity.

Hunter had looked awful in striking out while swinging from the heels in his first two at-bats. His third at-bat was far from awful, lining a single to center. Cabrera scored easily, the Tigers now down by only a run at 3-2 (MLB.com video).

Austin Jackson made it four consecutive singles with a liner to left center. Alejandro De Aza's throw was well of-line, allowing Martinez to score without a play while Jackson advanced to second and Hunter to third (MLB.com video).

But Castellanos became Quintana's tenth punchout victim when he couldn't hold up on a breaking ball out of the zone, ending the threat. But four straight singles had knotted the game at 3-all.

What was odder than Quintana's ten strikeouts? Verlander had just one entering the bottom half of the sixth. Make it two, Jose Abreu going down for the second time leading off the frame.

Verlander walked Dunn (a true outcome!) before Dayan Viciedo bounced into an around the horn 5-4-3 double play, ending the inning.

Robin Ventura gave Quintana the hook after six innings, ten whiffs and no walks, replacing him with right-hander Jake Petricka.  He would retire the Tigers in order, hanging a Golden Sombrero on Rajai Davis in the process.

One down on the seventh, De Aza tripled into the right field corner. Hunter wasn't able to corral the ball, which allowed De Aza to narrowly beat Kinsler's on-the-money relay throw. The infield pulled in, Verlander walked Tyler Flowers, setting up a double-play opportunity.

There would be no need for a twin killing. You don't need the double play when you can get the batter to swing and miss. Verlander did just that, both Semien and Eaton struck out swinging on breaking ball which dropped off the table. The White Sox had just wasted a one-out triple thanks to some wicked Verlander breaking stuff, so the game rolled into the eighth tied still knotted at 3-all.

Verlander's pitch count was at 113 after seven. You know what that means....

God help us all.

Turned out it would be White Sox fans who would be praying.

Ronald Belisario took over the White Sox and had no trouble setting the Tigers down in order.

Joba Chamberlain took over for Verlander and as has been the wont of the bullpen as of late, immediately got into trouble. Then again, Abreu has given almost everyone trouble. Verlander had no problem with the dangerous Abreu, striking him out twice. But the White Sox's rookie slugger greeted Chamberlain with a one-out double to left center. Dunn was given a free true outcome thanks to an intentional pass.

"We knew he had the capability, and he executed it." -Brad Ausmus on Holaday's game winner

Chamberlain got a huge out when Viciedo was caught looking after being ahead in the count 3-0. the Tigers' setup man nicely pitched his way out of a jam when Ramirez bounced into a 4-6 fielder's choice. The White Sox had wasted a one-out extra base hit for the second straight inning.

Belisario remained on the mound to start the ninth. One down, Jackson drilled a fly ball to deep right that Viciedo dropped at the warning track. Jackson showed off his speed by finding an extra gear hitting second and cruised into third on the three-base error.

"Run, run, run, run!" -Justin Verlander, when asked what he thought when Holaday bunter

Castellanos unable to drive in the lead run, becoming the 14th strike out of the night.

Jackson just 90 feet away, it was left up to Bryan Holaday, who wasn't even supposed to play tonight. With the count 1-1, Holaday BUNTED.

The Tigers' backup catcher shocked everyone and laid down an absolutely perfect safety squeeze.

Tigersqueeze_medium

As Jackson raced home, Belisario flung a desperate throw which pulled Abreu off the bag. Holaday had executed the play to perfection, earning himself a two-out RBI (MLB.com video).

The Tigers had come back from three runs down in the third inning to take a 4-3 lead.

Bottom of nine, Joe Nathan was looking for save number five on the season. He got it, but not without a scare. Flowers sent a fly ball to the deepest part of the Cell in dead center, as just as it appeared Jackson was preparing to leap, he calmly turned and caught the ball at the base of the wall.

There would be no late-game bullpen blowups tonight. Nathan retired pinch-hitter Paul Konerko on a can of corn to right.

GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 4, White Sox 3. The never-say-die Tigers didn't, coming back from three runs down to take a hard-earned win.

Game two is also the series finale. The Tigers send Max Scherzer (2-1, 3.45 ERA) to the mound to face White Sox right-hander Hector Noesi (0-1, 11.74 ERA).

Scherzer has won two consecutive starts after going winless in his first three. His last appearance was a win over these same White Sox last Thursday. Scherzer recorded ten strikeouts while allowing seven hits and and two runs over six innings.

The White Sox claimed Noesi off waivers from the Rangers last week. He's made one relief appearance with Chicago, holding the Rays to a hit in 1 1/3 innings. But his last game as a Ranger was a debacle, allowing seven runs and seven hits in one inning against .... the White Sox. Noesi does have 88 games of starting experience, but as a minor leaguer.

First pitch at the Cell is set for 2:10 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Alex Avila's body continues to betray him. The Tigers' starting catcher was scratched from tonight's starting lineup due to lower back spasms. Bryan Holaday started for the third straight game. Post victory, Brad Ausmus said Avila will sit out Wednesday's game as well.

If you want to know which FSD personality picked which Tiger to be their player of the game during the pregame, you're in luck: FSD Player of the Game chart.

The Weather Gods obviously despise the Tigers, leading to philosophical musings on Twitter.

Torii Huinter's continued refusal to hit the cutoff man, any cutoff man, is becoming a thing.

Sometimes an awful throw is the best throw. Holaday threw out Alexei Ramirez with a throw which bounced ten feet in front of second base, a good six feet over on the right field side of the bag. Danny Worth made a nice play to field the throw and slap the tag on Ramirez as he dove for second.

Tag_medium

A rare occurrence went down in the fifth - Nick Castellanos popped up. How can a pop-up be rare? As noted by DJ Screw in the game thread, that pop-up was the first of the season for the Tigers' prize rookie.

Hitting streak news: With their back-to-back singles in the sixth, Hunter extended his streak to seven games and Austin Jackson's reached six.

You know facial hair talk will break out when Joba Chamberlain is on the mound.

The most annoying guy in Chicago tonight was not Hawk Harrelson. That "honor" belonged to a drunk FSD mics picked up who was constantly screaming "BOOOOOORING" at the top of his lungs in the ninth inning.

THREE ROARS:

Justin Verlander: Another solid outing for the Tigers' ace with seven innings and three runs, This was Verlander's 176th quality start of his career. Since 2006, his 176 quality starts are tied for second most in the majors. Seems Verlander is good at throwing baseballs.

Bryan Holaday: In the words of Dante in the movie Clerks, "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" Not in the orignal starting lineup, Holaday had a big game with two hits, a stolen base, threw out a runner and, of course, the game-winning squeeze bunt.

Victor Martinez: Becoming a regular on the ROAR side of the ledger, Martinez had two hits and an RBI. Picking right off from where he ended 2013, Martinez is now hitting .296/.337/.481.

BONUS ROAR:

Squeeze bunts: Post game, Brad Ausmus said the bench was trying to alert Holaday from the start during his ninth-inning at-bat that the bunt was there. Holaday said he never saw a signal, but did see the same thing, that a bunt could work. When interviewed on FSD, Holaday admitted he was bunting on his own.

TWO HISSES:

Rajai Davis: He was overdue for a bad game at the plate, and Davis had a doozy tonight. He earned the Golden Sombrero in the seventh inning.

Torii Hunter's dislike of cutoff men: For some reason Hunter thinks he can throw out every damn runner at the plate. All he's doing is giving teams additional scoring opportunities due to his hatred of cutoff men.

ROLL CALL:

Total comments 769
Total commenters 43
Commenter list 42jeff, Allison Hagen, AlohaTigersFan, BadCompany22, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, Fielder'sChoice, JWurm, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Klesher32, LoganB, MSUDersh, NCDee, Naysayer N San Diego, Nonsuch Ned, Rob Rogacki, SpartanHT, Sturgeon Slaw, TheLegacyofJordanTata, TomduhB, Verlanderful, aelix, ahtrap, dishnet34, dominator039, draykov44, flashintheleather, frisbeepilot, jgrubbs, kland83, knucklescarbone, madvillian, markcal, mrsunshine, rock n rye, sluggonauts, stevenyc, subic sailor, texastigerfan, the flame
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/4/29/5664178/game-22-tigers-at-white-sox-8-10-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/4/29/5666788/game-22-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 frisbeepilot 73
2 knucklescarbone 65
3 kland83 49
4 jgrubbs 46
5 rock n rye 45
6 Cabbylander 42
7 JWurm 40
8 Verlanderful 35
9 MSUDersh 32
10 NCDee 32

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
3 TomduhB I know
3 Verlanderful Must be moving South
3 Rob Rogacki Joba = Yukon Cornelius
2 stevenyc We saw an immutable law of fandom the last couple innings
2 NCDee Baseball worth waiting for!
2 NCDee Baseball!

GAME 21 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Torii Hunter's three hits in a 5-3 loss to the Twins pushed him to the top of the PotG balloting with 64% of the vote.

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