The Chicago White Sox taking down the Detroit Tigers 6-3 took a back seat to a bench clearing altercation in the sixth. Luke Putkonen threw behind Alexei Ramirez in retaliation for Chris Sale's high and tight pitch in the previous inning, emptying the benches and bullpens. In the resulting fracas, both Putkonen and Tigers' manager Jim Leyland were ejected.
As for the game itself, the White Sox won in come-from-behind fashion on Josh Phegley's sixth inning grand slam off Tigers starter and loser, Anibal Sanchez (7-6). Sanchez was tagged for seven hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings of work.
Winning for the first time since May 17, Chris Sale (6-8) was the recipient of some rare run support, scattering ten hits and three runs over over 6 2/3 innings. The White Sox bullpen held the Tigers' hitless over the final 2 1/3 innings, Addison Reed closing out the ninth to record his 23rd save.
The light-hitting (.200 entering the game) Phegley only had one hit, but it was a huge one, a grand slam giving the White Sox the victory.. Lead off man Alejandro De Aza had three hits and solo home run, Ramirez adding a pair of hit before leaving the game with a leg cramp.
The Tigers' offense came on a pair of home runs off the bats of Matt Tuiasosopo and Miguel Cabrera, the white hot Victor Martinez chipping in with three hits.
Despite the Tigers dropping the series, the story of the day was the fifth and sixth inning fireworks. Jim Leyland was still upset after the game, and refused to speak to the media.
For what it's worth, the Tigers involved were playing dumb:
Ejected Luke Putkonen played the wildness card:
"it just got away."
Catcher Brayan Pena added the Tigers were "trying to go inside."
Torii Hunter went to bat for his embattled skipper:
"I really appreciate that. ... Real smart on skip's part."
The White Sox opened the game with back-to-back base hits off Sanchez to take a 1-0 lead. More amazing was the fact one of the teams scored with less than two outs.
Leading off the game, De Aza slapped a single to left, followed by Ramírez's ground ball RBI double over the third base bag. Tuiasosopo had trouble corralling the ball in left, allowing the speedy De Aza to easily score all the way from first.
After an unintentional intentional walk to Mr. Three True Outcomes, Adam Dunn, Sanchez pitched out of the jam on a strikeout of Jeff Keppinger and a Conor Gillaspie fly ball. But Sanchez also needed 21 pitches to get out of the inning.
The White Sox threatened again in the second, putting runners in scoring position with two out Sanchez plunked the lead off man, Dayan Viciedo, who has constantly been on base in this series. With two down, De Aza sent a looper to short center, Austin Jackson didn't leave his feet, and was unable to come up with the shoestring catch. Catching the Tigers napping as the ball was thrown in, De Aza legged it into second base. Sanchez was able to end the inning unscathed, Ramirez bouncing out to second.
The Tigers took the lead off Sale in the bottom of the second, after, of course, two were out. Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez led off with back-to-back singles, but Jhonny Peralta bounced into a 5-3 double play. Being there were three Tigers on the base paths not known for their running ability, I had scary thoughts of an around-the-horn triple play. But Gillaspie declined to try, stepping on the third base bag and throwing to first.
Good thing he did, as it gave the .342 hitting Tuiasosopo a shot at an RBI.
Martinez on second with two down, Tuiasosopo did more than drive in a run. He took Sale to the opposite field, his fly ball just clearing the wall in right for a two run big fly and a 2-1 Tigers' lead. Tuiasosopo's sixth home run of the season extends his career high, having hit four with the Mariners in 2010.
Hunter made use of Comerica's vast outfield expanse, finding the gap in right center with one down in the third. Hunter's liner ended up in Triple Valley, rolling to the scoreboard for an easy three base hit. Runner on third and less than two out, the Tigers' couldn't capitalize. After a Cabrera walk put runners on the corners, Fielder hit the ball hard, but right at Keppinger, resulting in a 3-6-3 inning ending double play.
Sanchez had yet to retire the White Sox in order through four innings, walking one, scattering five hits, but had kept Chicago off the scoreboard since Ramirez's RBI double in the first.
So hot not even a fire hose could put him out, Martinez led off the bottom of the fourth with a ground rule double to left. Sale walked Peralta, giving Tuiasosopo a shot with runners in scoring position. Pitching him almost entirely in tight, Sale struck out Tuiasosopo looking.
With two down, Hernan Perez bounced a single through the left side for his first career hit. Bit he didn't get his first career RBI. Making a good play on the ball, Viciedo charged and came up firing a bullet to Phegley. You know it this ends. Martinez was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Can someone please convince Tom Brookens to stop sending Martinez?
There was two down in the bottom of the fifth and Cabrera at the plate. You know what means. A run!
The count full, Cabrera showed off his magnificent opposite field power by taking Sale's off speed pitch over the 375' mark in right center. The Tigers up 3-1, a thoroughly ticked off Sale spiked the rosin bag in disgust as Cabrera circled the bases with home run number 30 and his 94th RBI.
Sale's next pitch to Fielder was high and tight, which would lead to fireworks an inning later.
Up two runs in the sixth, an rare error by Jackson greased the skids for a one out, bases loaded jam that ended badly. Keppinger led off with a sinking liner Jackson got to, but bounced off the heel of his glove for an error. Sanchez walked Gillaspie, then allowed a one out single to Gordon Beckham to lead the bases.
Nearing 100 pitches and visibly struggling with his command, Leyland left Sanchez in to face the light-hitting Phegley. Pitch number 102 was the last for Sanchez. Phegley launched a full count off speed pitch down the line and into the bullpen for a grand slam and 5-3 White Sox lead.
Then ... BASEBALL FIGHT.
Putkonen entered the game to replace Sanchez. After getting the second out of the inning, Putkonen retaliated for the buzzing of Fielder by throwing behind Ramirez. Ramirez took exception, walking toward the mound pointing at Putkonen as the benches cleared and everyone milled around yelling. Putkonen was ejected and surprisingly, Ramirez wasn't, which set off Leyland on a five minute tirade with much yelling and pointing.
In this case, Leyland had a legit point. Intentional or not (Sale's reaction has me believing it was unintentional, he said as much after the game), once Sale threw high and tight to Fielder after Cabrera's home run the timing meant warnings should have been issued. The umpiring crew badly screwed up in not taking control at that point and Leyland was letting them know it in no uncertain terms. Their non-reaction to the Fiedler pitch caused an overreaction by the Tigers. Plus, if Putkonen was ejected, so should have Ramirez for escalating the situation. This mess is all on the the shoulders of the umpiring crew.
Leyland came back for more, as if he didn't get his point across the first time, getting the thumb (you also have to wonder if Leyland was blowing off steam for his leaving Sanchez in the game too long). When the shoving, pointing and yelling had subsided, Putkonen and Leyland had been ejected, Al Alburquerque was on the mound facing Ramirez with the count 1-0.
The crowd giving Ramirez the what-for, he blooped a single over the head of Fielder. But Ramirez paid a price, forced to leave the game with a leg problem as a segment of the Tigers' fan base getting worked up over karma. Emotions running high, the crowd at Comerica cheered the injury, which was not at all appropriate.
As the game went into the seventh, tempers had calmed but the Tigers could do little with Sale, still trailing 5-3. Pitch count well over 100, Sale was likely pitching his last inning, and retired the first two Tigers easily. But with two down, Hunter doubled off the right field wall on Sale's 124th pitch. Cabrera looming on deck as the tying run, Robin Ventura yanked his starter, calling on right-hander Matt Lindstrom out of the bullpen.
First base open, the White Sox elected to pitch to Cabrera. It paid off, Cabrera flying out to short right to end the threat.
Phil Coke entered the game in the top of the eighth and did what Phil Coke does as of late. Not pitch well. At all. He wasn't even effective against left-handers in what turned out to be a short appearance. The lefty swinging De Aza took Coke yard to make it a 6-3 game. Coke then proceeded to walk the bases loaded before interim manager Gene Lamont waved te white flag, calling for Evan Reed out of the pen.
To Reed's credit, he cleaned up Coke's mess, keeping the White Sox within three runs by inducing Keppinger to bounce into an around-the-horn 5-4-3 twin killing
Top of nine, the Tigers were still down 6-3 and Reed was on the mound. Channeling his inner Coke, Reed walked the lead off man, Gillaspie. Reed compounded issues by throwing his pick off attempt into right field for a two base error. Just as he pitched into trouble, Reed pitched out of it.
With one out and the infield in, Beckham hit a chopper to Cabrera, who made an on-target throw to the Food Truck , Pena , blocking the plate. Gillaspie was an easy out, Pena making the tag as the runner never touched the plate, quashing the rally.
Addison Reed entered the game in the bottom of the ninth hoping to earn his 23rd save for the White Sox. He diod so with ease, retiring the side in order.
Game over. Your final score is White Sox 6, Tigers 3, Jim Leyland 1 (ejection).
Meh. Just meh. Let's hope the Tigers shake off their lousy performance and enter the All-Star break on a high note by beating the Rangers. Regardless, it's just one game and the Tigers are still in first place. but there are cracks in the foundation which need to be patched at the deadline, specifically in the bullpen.
Once again the Tigers fail to reach their 11 game over .500 white whale, dropping to 50-41 on the season. The Indians knocked off the Blue Jays to raise their record to 48-44. The Tigers' lead in the Central falls to 2 1/2 games.
The Texas Rangers arrive in Detroit for the final three games before the All-Star break arrives. The Rangers will start right-hander Justin Grimm (7-6, 5.88 ERA), who hasn't pitched past the fourth inning in either of his last two appearances. Grimm has a road ERA of 6.81 in eight starts this seaaon. Grimm will face Doug Fister (6-5, 4.07 ERA), who has been putting the Tigers in an early hole, allowing four run first innings, and six runs total, in his last two starts. First pitch at Comerica Park is 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Anibal Sanchez allowed a run just two batters into the game, Jon Paul Morosi predicted DOOOOOOOM. Turned out, he wasn't far off.
I am not convinced Anibal Sanchez is completely healthy. Control is off. Taking a lot of time between pitches.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 11, 2013
Victor Martinez's second inning single extended his hitting streak to 13 games. It seems the Martinez of 2011 has finally returned.
We talk about how hot Martinez has been of late, but he has nothing on Matt Tuiasosopo:
Matt Tuiasosopo has homered in each of the past three games he has played and four of his past five (dating back to June 18).— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) July 11, 2013
Thus raises a question. Should Jim Leyland play Tuiasosopo more, or is the reason Tuiasosopo is putting up such good numbers is thanks to Leyland limiting his exposure? Considering Tuiasosopo has never played this well, I fall on the "Leyland is using Big Sqiggles perfectly" side of the argument.
1. Leyland attempts to use guy in way that helps guy to succeed. 2. Guy succeeds. 3. Fans push for Leyland to use guy differently.— Scourge of Poseurs (@BossOfRenfield) July 11, 2013
When Tom Brookens got Martinez was thrown out at the plate ... again ... Rob let him have it with both barrels.
It's one thing to "force the defense to make a play," it's another entirely to give Viciedo a free throw from the edge of the grass.— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 11, 2013
Viciedo has a good arm and was roughly 120 feet from home plate. That's called "long toss" and is how outfielders warm up.— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 11, 2013
After Miguel Cabrera went yard in the fifth, a very unhappy Chris Sale fired his first pitch to Prince Fielder high and tight. Jim Leyland was perplexed no warnings were issued.
This led to the later fireworks and Leyland's ejection.
Alexi Ramirez was pulled with an injury after the brouhaha.
Ramirez left today's game with cramping in his right leg. And hated by the 40,000-plus in attendance.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) July 11, 2013
Moving on to more pleasant topics, Cabrera's home run was his 30th, his seventh straight season with 30 plus. The only season Cabrera missed the 30 homer mark was his 2003 rookie season, hitting 12 in 87 games. There's also this nugget:
With his 30th HR of the season, Miguel Cabrera is 1st player in MLB history with 30 home runs AND 90 RBI before the All-Star break— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 11, 2013
As Martinez is heating up, Jhonny Peralta is cooling off:
VMart since the start of July: .442 (17-for-43), 5-2Bs, HR, 7 RBI, 8R. He had 24 hits in all of May, 24 in all of June, 21 in April. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 11, 2013
#Tigers Peralta now 10-for-56 (.179) in last 13 games. Batting average has dropped from .322 to .298— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) July 11, 2013
The Tigers lose 2-of-3 in a bad series, but let common sense prevail:
@blessyouboys Frustrating.....but remember, 99% of the time talent always wins in the end. We have the talent.— Brandon Genovesi (@owntheday16) July 11, 2013
Post game, Chris Sale insisted he was not throwing at Fielder:
Sale said he'll make a point to seek out Leyland at All-Star Game -- "damn right I will" -- to stress that he wasn't throwing at Prince.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) July 11, 2013
Victor Martinez: His average is now at .260 after another multi-hit game, 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Matt Tuiasosopo: Another game, another home run.
Evan Reed: Tossed into a bases loaded, one out, Phil Coke caused blaze in eighth, Reed was a true fireman, putting out the blaze without allowing another run to score. Reed ultimately pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Miguel Cabrera: Has 30 home runs and 94 RBI and we're still not at the All-Star break. This is freaking ridiculous.
Phil Coke: At this point, it's even hard to make a case for Coke as a LOOGY. He's having trouble getting anyone out, shown by his allowing a home run and walking three in just 1/3 of an inning. Coke ERA is now 6.18 on the season and he owes Reed a solid for it not being any higher. Post game, Coke blamed his ineffectiveness on being mad over the events of the previous inning, unable to let it go.
The umpiring crew: Allowed the game to get out of hand by not taking control after Sale buzzed Fielder. They just made it worse by not ejecting Ramirez along with Putkonen, which lit a huge fire under Leyland.
Tigers' pitching: Lynn Henning sums up the series in less than 140 characters.
White Sox came in, having won next-to-nothing on the road. Have had 34 hits in 2 of 3 games at Comerica Park and will (obviously) win two.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) July 11, 2013
Don't forget the last place White Sox scored 22 runs in the three games. Not what anyone expected to see coming into the series.
Tigers fans: Never, ever cheer an injury. A classless thing to do.
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There were several worthy candidates, but BYB readers found Price Fielder three hits, a home run and three RBIs to be the most worthy, taking 55% of the vote.