Anibal Sanchez had not received much in the way of run support this season, losing five games where the Detroit Tigers had scored two runs or less. Support wasn't an issue for Sanchez tonight, the Tigers taking a 3-0 first inning lead, easily handing the Chicago White Sox in a 6-2 victory. With their fourth straight win (three over the White Sox), the Tigers reach a season high 12 games over .500.
Receiving credit for the victory, Sanchez (8-7) tossed the Tigers' league leading 65th quality start of the season. He held the White Sox scoreless over six innings, scattering six hits, striking out five. Despite the comfortable margin, the Tigers needed five relievers to finish off the final three innings.
To his credit, John Danks (2-8) saved the White Sox bullpen (as much as it can be saved when Robin "Captain Hook has nothing on me" Ventura is your manager) by pitching seven full innings. But Danks also took the loss, knocked around for 11 hits and six runs while serving up all three of the Tigers' home runs.
Five of the six Tigers' runs scored via the home run. Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter all went yard. Alex Avila drove in the Tigers' final run with a single. For the White Sox, Dayan Viciedo had three hits, one a home run.
If you look up the definition of a ho-hum win, I'm sure you'll find the box score of this game. The night went as you would expect when a first place team takes on a bottom-feeder. The Tigers took control four batters into the first inning and never allowed the White Sox anywhere near back in the game.
First inning, first Tigers threat against John Danks.
Slumping Austin Jackson led off with a single, but was erased on Torii Hunter's ground ball to short. Hunter just beat the throw to avoid the double play. A patient Matt Tuiasosopo had a nice at bat, working a walk.
Two on, one out for Prince Fielder did not bode well for Danks. The White Sox starter having never retired Fielder in his career. The Tigers' first baseman entered the night 3-for-3 against Danks. Two pitched and one uppercut swing later, Fielder was 4-for-4, drilling a three run home run over the wall in right center. Fielder's 17th big fly on the season measured 409 feet, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead (MLB.com video).
Danks served up a duck snort/bloop/flair double to right off the bat of Jhonny Peralta before Don Kelly flew out to end the rally.
Alejandro De Aza led off the bottom of the first by dropping looping single a step in front of Austin Jackson, because, as we all know, Jackson refuses to dive. Anibal Sanchez then allowed the speedy De Aza to get a huge jump, the White Sox center fielder easily stealing second. Compounding matters, Alex Avila's throw sailed into center, De Aza cruising into third.
Sanchez proceeded to take matters into his own hands. Alexei Ramirez hit a liner directly at Peralta for the first out. Sanchez struck out Alex Rios swinging and got one of the Three True Outcomes out of Adam Dunn, striking him out as well. The White Sox had a runner at third and no one out, but couldn't convert.
In the game preview thread, BYB contributor and noted stats wizard GWilson posted this nugget:
When pitching with a lead of at least 3 runs, Anibal has allowed an extraordinary .150/.200/.178 (115 PAs). Otherwise, he’s been worse than league average by allowing .270/.336/.398 (289 PAs).
The Tigers were up 3-0 after one. Game over.
Don't stop reading, but the game really was over, for all intents and purposes.
Jackson entered the night withten hits in 25 at bats against Danks. Jackson made it 2-for-2 on the night and 12-for-27 overall, quickly turning on a Danks breaking ball, sending a foul pole hugging line drive over the left field wall at the 330' mark. Home run number six for Jackson pushed the Tigers' advantage to 4-0 (MLB.com video).
While the offense was taking a lead, Sanchez was, as basball play-by-play guys like to say, dealing. After De Aza's lead off single, Sanchez retired the next six batters he faced. When Dayan Viciedo led off the third with a single, Sanchez started another out streak, retiring the next five in order.
Sanchez suddenly found himself in a bit of trouble thanks to a walk to Paul Konerko and single to Jeff Keppinger with two down in the fourth. Just a quickly, he was out of the jam, Conor Gillaspie bouncing out to Fielder to end the threat.
Danks had yet to have an inning where he retired the Tigers in order. Nothing changed in the top of the fifth. With one out, Hunter's high fly ball found the White Sox bullpen in left for the third Tigers homer of the night. Home run number nine on the season, Hunter's second of the series, put the White Sox in a 5-0 hole (MLB.com video).
The White Sox kept pecking away at Sanchez in the fifth, putting a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. Once again, Sanchez would strand the runners.
One down, Josh Phegley singled, De Aza doubling the rookie catcher to third. The runners froze on Ramirez's pop up to to second, the ball falling in front of Perez. The runners were forced to hold, Perez got the out at first. Rios hit the ball hard with two down, but right at Jackson. Another scoreless inning was in the books for Sanchez.
There was an incident of shocking proportions in the sixth. After two were out, Kelly and Perez reached via back-to-back singles. Rare it might be, but not shocking.
Avila came into the game with one hit in 37 at bats against left-handed pitching. Here's the stunner. Avila ripped an RBI single to right, only his second hit off a left-hander this season, giving the Tigers a 6-0 advantage.
Sanchez having pitched into and out of trouble in fourth and fifth, Jim Leyland decided six scoreless innings and 101 pitches was enough for his starter. Sanchez was pulled, replaced by the big rookie right-hander, Bruce Rondon.
Rondon fought with command of his fastball, allowing the White Sox to get on the scoreboard. A Viciedo single, a wild pitch while Phegley was striking out, a four pitch walk to De Aza and an RBI single by Ramirez cut the Tigers' lead to 6-1. Rondon got out of the jam thanks to the pitcher's BFF, a 6-4-3- double play off the bat of Rios.
Drew Smyly took over from Rondon in the eighth, not having pitched since Sunday and in need of work to stave off rust (the only reason I could come up with foir using Smyly with a five run lead). Rusty? hardly. Smyly allowed a meaningless single, but did strike out the side.
Luke Putkonen entered the fray in to pitch in garbage time. Instead, the he forced Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke to start warming up. Leading off the bottom of the ninth, Viciedo took Putkonen over the right field fence to make it a four run game. After Putkonen retired Phegley for the first out, Leyland channeled his inner Ventura and made a pitching change.
Coke got the call out the pen to face the lefty, De Aza. He failed in LOOGY duty, De Aza extending the game by singling to center. Making a trail to the mound, Leyland made another change, calling on Benoit to close out the game with a four run lead. Benoit nailed down an already closed door, ending a snoozer of a game with no drama.
GAME OVER. Your final score is identical to yesterday - Tigers 6, White Sox 2. In the battle of who needed more relievers, it's a surprising win for the Tigers, using five to the White Sox's three.
The Tigers are FINALLY doing to the White Sox what we thought they would do in the three game series last week. That series ended with the Tigers losing 2-of-3. Things change quickly in baseball. Tomorrow, the Tigers can finish off a four game sweep of that same team. As they say, it's not who you play, but when you play them. Then again, it's the White Sox. It shouldn't matter either way., as we've seen in the three games.
Winners of four straight, at 56-44 the Tigers raise their record to a high water mark, 12 games over .500. Thanks to a 4-2 record on the road trip, the Tigers are looking more respectable away from Comerica as of late at 27-25 . The Indians lost late last night, but avoided a sweep in Seattle by taking down the Mariners 10-1 this afternoon. As such, the Tigers' advantage over the Tribe in the Central holds steady at 3 1/2 games.
Looking for a series sweep, the Tigers have Justin Verlander (10-7, 3.69 ERA) taking on White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy (7-4, 4.19 ERA) in the finale. Verlander may have struggled at points this season, but he loves pitching in Chicago. Verlander hasn't lost a start at the Cell since 2008, going 5-0 since. Peavy spent six weeks on the DL with a fractured left rib, beating the Braves last weekend in his first start back. It's getaway day for the Tigers, so first pitch is 2:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Miguel Cabrera taking back-to-back games off to rest his sore hip leads to the stat of the night: The last time Cabrera missed consecutive games was back in 2010, sitting out the final six games of the season with a high ankle sprain.
Sharknado? No, KAIJU!
Giant bug about to eat Tigers players during BP. Probably see it on the Syfy network soon. pic.twitter.com/j7L8W5HkJf— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) July 24, 2013
Rod Allen gave Hernan Perez the kiss of death during the FSD pre-game. Calling him a "spark," Rod compared Perez to the 2012 version of Quintin Berry. Cue sports talk radio callers and Mlivers calling for Perez to play every day.
Sam of Roar of the Tigers may not be feeling well, but being forced to listen Hawk Harrelson speak in tongues can't be helping matters.
"there are not a bunch, but there are more than a few... lefties who would rather face left-handers." it's gonna be a long night with hawk.— Roar of the Tigers (@RoarTigers) July 25, 2013
chicago announcers practically gleeful over alex avila taking a ball off the shin. real nice, guys.— Roar of the Tigers (@RoarTigers) July 25, 2013
Hawk was annoying our guys at TPR as well:
Hawk is beaming about the whitesox hitting philosophy. Remind me, is .248/.301/.382 good as a team? Oh it's 13th in the AL.— TigersProspectReport (@TigersProspects) July 25, 2013
Speaking of annoying - Last season, the grounds crew at the Cell couldn't properly chalk out the batter's box, which Miguel Cabrera was happy to point out. This season, the pitcher's mound fell apart, causing a delay in the second inning.
R.I.P. to the 2013 Chicago White Sox. Buried in front of 3,000 diehard fans. pic.twitter.com/RdJbwIcXOR— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) July 25, 2013
After treating the ball like a hot potato the first two games of the series, the White Sox had gone three whole innings without an error tonight. The usual suspect ended that streak with two out in the fourth. Shortstop Alexei Ramírez threw away Hernan Perez's slow roller, allowing the rookie to take second. It was scored infield single, E-6. The error was the 17th of the season for Ramirez and the eighth of the series for the bumbling White Sox.
Rob is the BYB GIFmaster and resident nicknamer. After making Heavy B a thing for Bruce Rondon, he now has a nickname for the fig newton loving Cabrera.
Miguel Cabrera might not need a nickname, but dammit if I'm not calling him Cookie Monster after last night's Fig Newton fiasco— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 25, 2013
Interesting ... but I'm sure there's nothing here.
Hmm, @ErvinSantana_54 just followed us. Does he know something we don't? haha— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 25, 2013
Looking at the final box score, you can see which relievers stand out like a sore thumb.
As for an update to Cabrera's status, Leyland didn't have much to say.
Even though last night Leyland said Cabrera would play in one of the two remaining games in Chicago, I don't think anyone would mind if he was given another day off to rest his hip.
The second stat of the night is also Cabrera-centric and defines small sample size:
#Tigers have gone 5-0 without Cabrera over the last three years, winning the five games he's missed by a 30-7 margin— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 25, 2013
Anibal Sanchez: Excellent, as usual. Six shutout innings for MLB's poster child for wins and losses not determining a pitcher's value. Seems like just yesterday the Tigers traded for Sanchez. Actually, it was a year ago yesterday.
Prince Fielder: Three run bombs are baseball manna from Heaven.
Austin Jackson: Busted out of a slump with two hits, one a solo home run.
Hernan Perez: Two more hits for the rookie, and was robbed of a third.
Torii Hunter: Same as Jackson, two hits, one a solo home run.
Joaquin Benoit: Two batters, no hits, no runs, game over.
Phil Coke: When you have one job to do, you can't mess up. A lefty specialist must get left-handed bats out. Coke didn't.
Bruce Rondon: Battled with his command, allowed two hits, a walk and a run.
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The best game of young Hernan Perez's career (two hits, a sacrifice fly, two RBIs) was rewarded with a win in the PotG balloting, carrying 55% of the vote.