In a pitcher's duel ultimately decided by the bullpens, the Chicago White Sox rode a 9th inning, 2 run Adam Dunn home run to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Jose Valverde took the loss, his 2nd blown save dropping his record to 2-1. Max Scherzer allowed only 1 run in 7 innings, nothing to show for it but a sore foot. Nate Jones picked up the win for the White Sox in relief of Gavin Floyd, Addison Reid getting the save.
The Tigers started off the what little scoring there was in the 2nd. Gavin Floyd pitched into some bad luck, as 4 seeing eye hits plated 2 runs. With 1 out, Alex Avila singled to short. Jhonny Peralta then looped a shallow liner just over a leaping Alexei Ramirez at short, Avila advancing to 2nd. Andy Dirks slapped a Floyd pitch on the outside part of the plate into the hole at short into short left, Avila sprinting home in front of the throw for the Tigers' 1st run. With 2 out, Austin Jackson hit a sharp grounder toward, you guessed it, the hole at short. 3rd baseman Brent Morel got his glove on the ball, which was enough to send the ball past Ramirez into short left, the single scoring Peralta, 2-0 Tigers.
Sometimes it's not how hard you hit the ball, but where you hit it. As Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler would say, "Hit 'em where they ain't!"
Scherzer had electric stuff, and retired the first 11 White Sox batters he faced. Adam Dunn ended the steak with a single to right with 2 out in the 4th.
Things got much more interesting for Scherzer in the 5th. A.J. Pierzynski drilled a liner off the foot of Scherzer, who proceeded to throw the ball into the right field. Pierzynski advanced to 2nd, credited with a single, Scherzer nailed with a throwing error. Scherzer walked off the line shot, and was none the worse for wear, ending the inning spectacularly.. Pierzynski advanced to 3rd on a fly out. but both Dayan Viciedo and Morel struck out swinging to strand Pierztnski.
Scherzer made one mistake all day long, and Paul Konerko made him pay, hitting a 1 out solo shot over the wall in left. His 6th home run of the season pulled the White Sox to within 1 run, at 2-1. Scherzer's day ended after 7 innings, allowing 4 hits and 1 run, striking out 9. It was a badly needed excellent start for the struggling Scherzer.
But save for the 2nd inning, Floyd was as dominant as Scherzer. retiring 10 in a row at one point. The Tigers made him sweat in the 7th, as Andy Dirks hit a ground rule double to right with 1 out, then Ramirez's throw on Ryan Raburn's rocket 1 hopper to short pulled Konerko off the bag, leaving runners at 1st and 2nd. But Floyd got out of the jam easily, inducing Jackson to ground into a fielder's choice and Brennan Boesch to fly out to short right.
Benoit took over for Scherzer in the 8th, tossing a 1-2-3 inning, leaving the game in the hands of closer Jose Valverde. The game turned, post haste.
Alejandro De Aza led off with a single to center, then stole 2nd. He advanced to 3rd on a sac bunt, with the meat of the White Sox order coming up. Dunn made the small ball moot, crushing a Big Potato fastball deep, Deep, DEEP into the right field seats, his 8th home run of the season. Just like that, the White Sox had their first lead of the day, Scherzer's great start had suddenly gone for naught, and Valverde was roundly booed. Valverde did get out of the inning without allowing any more damage, but enough had been Dunn.
In blowing the save, Valverde's ERA has skyrocketed to 6.12, with a 1.80 WHIP, far too many base runners for a closer. Valverde's been living on the razor's edge for some time. The luck he received in not blowing a save in 2011 is missing in 2012.
With Chris Sale unavailable, Hector Santiago came on to close out the game for the White Sox. Avila flied out to left, but Peralta walked, keeping hope alive. It was also the first walk allowed by either pitching staff. Dirks lined out to center, bringing up Raburn with 2 out. His liner to left center sent pinch runner Danny Worth all the way to 3rd, who was running on the pitch. Raburn smartly ended up with a double, taking 2nd as the White Sox left the bag uncovered. Could the Tigers counter with another walkoff?
Robin Ventura had seen enough, pulling Santiago, bringing in Addison Reid.to face Jackson....who struck out. Consider your gut punched.
Both teams have learned what your starter giveth, your closer can taketh away. The series is evened up at 1 gut punch loss each.