The Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers for the second straight game, the last-place team in the Central taking out the first-place team 4-3 in 11 innings. Looking for his 18th win, the Tigers' Max Scherzer received a no-decision, remaining 17-1 on the season.
The 4-plus-hour battle was a war of bullpens, the Tigers using five relievers to the White Sox's four. Both starters, Scherzer and Hector Santiago, were out of the game by the sixth inning. Addison Reed (5-1) pitched the final two innings for the White Sox, earning the victory. The fifth Tigers pitcher of the night, Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 1-1 as a Tiger), was charged with the loss, allowing a run on a hit and a pair of walks. Phil Coke replaced Bonderman, allowing the game-winning single to the only batter he faced, Alejandro De Aza.
Then game wasn't just a bullpen battle, but one of paper cuts as well. The two teams combined for 20 hits, 19 of those singles. The only extra base hit was huge one, ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia's fourth-inning, two-RBI triple. Garcia made the Tigers pay for the recent trade, leading the White Sox with two hits, two RBIs and two runs, scoring the game winner.
The bottom of the order did all the offensive damage for the Tigers, Brayan Pena and Omar Infante each with three hits and an RBI.
A great road trip for the Tigers, starting 4-0 with a sweep of the Indians, is now a more mundane 5-4. But a 6-4 trip is still pretty damn good. The Tigers can accomplish just that by knocking off the White Sox in the series finale tomorrow afternoon. They can then prepare for a five-game invasion by the insanely hot Royals.
After an uneventful first inning, the Tigers manufactured their first threat against Hector Santiago. But a double play appeared to put a shiv in the heart of a potential rally. Prince Fielder led off with a bouncing single up the middle. Victor Martinez followed with a base on balls. When Matt Tuiasosopo grounded into a textbook 6-4-3 twin killing, it seemed the rally would sputter out.
The Tigers have badly missed Omar Infante's bat at the bottom of the lineup since suffering a leg injury against the Blue Jays on July 3. Infante's first base hit since coming off a lengthy stay on the disabled list was a big one, lining a single to left for a two-out RBI and a 1-0 Tigers lead.
Santiago proceeded to dig a two-out hole. White hot Brayan Pena, hitting (small sample size alert!) .375/.389/.656 in the second half, singled to right. Defensive wizard Jose Iglesias worked a walk. But the Tigers frustratingly allowed Santiago to wriggle off the hook, Austin Jackson striking out looking.
Max Scherzer motored through a 1-2-3 bottom of two, tossing a shutdown inning. Top of three, the the first two Tigers reached base against Santiago, setting up another threat.
Swinging the bat instead of talking, Torii Hunter lined a single to left. Wanting no part of Miguel Cabrera, Santiago pitched around him. Two on and no one out, the Tigers caught a break. Fielder should have bounced in a 3-6-1 double play. But Santiago was late getting off the mound, leaving Ramirez unable to make a play on Fielder. Instead of two down and a runner on third, the Tigers had runners on the corners with one out.
The Tigers then tried to run themselves into a rally. The small ball blew up in their face and ran themselves out of the inning instead. In a long at-bat, Martinez battled to a 3-2 count. Leyland sent Fielder, Martinez struck out, Fielder stopped running halfway to second, Hunter broke for home, and was easily tagged out in a short run down.
While the Tigers were stranding more runners than Doug Fister hits batters, Scherzer was doing his damnedest to make the one-run lead stand up. After allowing a first-inning lead-off single to Alejandro De Aza, Scherzer had retired nine straight White Sox batters through three innings.
Bottom of four, Scherzer finally allowed a base runner, pitching himself into a jam. Gordan Beckham paid a painful price to reach base, drilled in the front elbow with an inside fastball. Beckham became the first White Sox runner to reach second, Scherzer uncorking a wild pitch. Scherzer then walked Ramirez, someone he normally owns (Ramirez is 3-for-36 against Scherzer).
Scherzer started digging out of the two-on, no-one-out hole against the meat of the White Sox order, striking out both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.
After blowing a couple of fastballs by Avisail Garcia, Scherzer made huge two-strike mistake. Garica took a fastball in his wheelhouse the opposite way, sending a liner into the right field corner. Both runners scored as Garcia cruised into third with a stand-up triple. The Tigers compounded matters with some awful defense, blowing a simple relay. Infante lobbed a two-hopper across the diamond, Cabrera unable to make the scoop, allowing Garcia to score on the Little League home run.
Credit Garcia with a two-RBI triple, charge Infante with the E-4 and the third run unearned, the White Sox taking a 3-1 lead.
Bases now empty, Scherzer got out of the inning on his 34th pitch, Jeff Keppinger sending a can of corn of right. But it was an ugly inning for the Tigers. The White Sox scored three times on just one hit, aided by a hit by pitch, a walk, wild pitch and throwing error. Innings like the fourth are why the Tigers can be such a confounding, frustrating team, even with a big lead in the Central.
Once again, the Tigers put a runner in scoring position against Santiago. Once again, the Tigers would allow Santiago, his pitch count pushing 100, off the hook. Top of five and one out, Hunter singled. Cabrera's smoked one-hopper nearly ended Ramirez's life, knocking him over. But with Cabrera barely able to jog, let alone run, Ramirez was able to get the out at first. Fielder stranded Hunter, bouncing out to second. Santiago was begging to be knocked out of the box, but the Tigers couldn't do it.
With help of a double play, Scherzer got out of the fifth unscathed. Amazingly, despite dodging bullets all game, Robin Ventura allowed Santiago to start the top of the sixth. Doing so almost cost the White Sox a run.
Martinez led off the inning with a line shot to left, over the head of De Aza. The liner hit the wall a foot under the yellow home run line, ricocheting back to De Aza. Martinez was forced to stop at first with a long, loud single. It was starting to feel like one of THOSE games.
Ventura wizened up, quickly pulling Santiago. Entering the game was right-hander Matt Lindstrom, who got the next out, but gave up a bloop single to Infante. Lindstrom looked to have gotten out of the inning when Pena bounced to first. Konerko fired to second for the second out of the inning, but Ramirez's return throw was wild low, skipping past a covering Lindstrom. Martinez scored on Ramirez's 19th error of the season, the Tigers pulling within a run at 3-2.
Lindstrom would walk Iglesias, but got out of further trouble when Jackson bounced out to deep third, once again proving he isn't particularly fast despite fans saying so.
Scherzer found himself in further trouble in the bottom of the sixth, Ramirez leading off with a single, Konerko walking with one out. Garcia hit the ball hard, but Cabrera was able to grab it on the short hop and throw to second for the fielder's choice. Scherzer both got out of the inning and ended his night when Keppinger fouled out to Pena.
While the Tigers were going down in order in the seventh, Donnie Veal ending the inning by inducing Fielder to pop up, and Drew Smyly was warming up. The young lefty would take over for Scherzer in the bottom half of the frame.
Smyly allowed a one-out single, but got out of the inning thanks to another double play started by the wizardly Iglesias.
Down 3-2, the Tigers would have to face hard throwing right-hander Nate Jones in the top of the eighth. Jones had trouble finding the strike zone, walking the lead-off man, Martinez. He went to a 3-0 count on Andy Dirks (who had entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth), before the Tigers' slumping left fielder fouled out to Keppinger.
Infante kept the inning alive, rapping a hard ground ball past a sprawling Ramirez, pinch runner Don Kelly racing to third. The scorer gave Ramirez his second error of the game to Rod Allen's complaints.
Pena was down in count 0-2, but bounced an RBI single off the glove of Beckham, Kelly scoring to knot the game at 3-all. A very sarcastic sounding Rod Allen chimed in with...
"They gonna give Beckham an error, too?"
Unfortunately, Iglesias isn't as wizardly with the bat. First pitch swinging with runners on first and second, Iglesias bounced into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
Middle of eight, there was good news on two points for the Tigers. Scherzer was no longer the pitcher of record thanks to the late comeback and would remain 17-1. The ridiculously hot Royals fell in extra innings to the Marlins, and dropped back into third place in the Central.
Jose Veras got the nod from Leyland, starting the bottom of the eighth on the mound. Ramirez on first with a one-out single, Dunn was ahead in the count 3-0. Given the green light, Dunn hit the proverbial home run in a stovepipe, a massively high pop-up for the second out. Veras looked shaky at times, but ended a scoreless inning when Konerko bounced out to Iglesias.
Top of nine, Jones remained in the game for the White Sox. He made Jackson and Hunter look silly, both striking out on benders well out of the zone. No ninth-inning heroics for Cabrera, ending the inning on a comebacker off the leg of Jones.
Bottom of nine, Bruce Rondon was on the mound for the Tigers. Garcia greeted him with a hard two-hopper to second, which Infante was unable to handle. His second error of the game put the winning run on base (the official scorer would later change it to a single). Keppinger did the Tigers a solid by popping up a bunt for the first out. But Danks lined a single to right, Garcia thinking about taking third, but deciding not to test Hunter's arm.
Winning run on second, Conor Gillaspie pinch hit for Josh Phegley. Rondon fell behind 3-1, Gillaspie then ripping a line shot down the right field line which landed a foot foul. Rondon dodging a bullet, Gillaspie chased what would have been a shoulder-high ball four. Instead, he was the second out of the inning. De Aza grounded out to first to end a tense inning, Rondon stranding the winning run on second.
On to extra innings for the fourth time in ten games. The Tigers entered extra 5-10 this season, and 2-1 in their last three. Also playing their fourth OT game, the White Sox are worse in extra frames at 6-13, but 2-1 in their last three.
Fielder led off the tenth against closer Addison Reed, looping a single over short. Leyland ordered the sacrifice bunt, Kelly moving Fielder into scoring position. But that's where the big man would stay, Dirks flying out and Infante bouncing to second.
Asked to send the game into the 11th was Jeremy Bonderman. Bondo allowed a two-out single to Dunn, but ended the inning with his second strikeout, Konerko going down swinging.
Top of 11 and Reed still on the mound, Pena bounced a single to center, his third hit of the night. For the second straight inning, the Tigers sacrificed, Iglesias getting the honors. After Jackson flew out to Garcia, Hunter sent a two-hopper to Ramirez's back-hand, which should have ended the inning. But Ramirez kicked it, committing his second error of the night and 20th of the season, both runners safe.
It twas Cabrera versus Reed with two outs and runners on the corners. Cabrera smoked a line shot off the glove Reed. It was hit so hard, the liner knocked Reed's glove off. A healthy Cabrera beats it out for an RBI single. A hobbled Cabrera slid into first, but was thrown out by Ramirez.
Yep, one of those games...
Cabrera wasn't moving well after the play, but remained in the game.
Bottom of 11, Bonderman immediately got into deep, deep trouble. He walked Garcia on four pitches. Keppinger laid down a bunt, Bonderman making the questionable decision to throw to second. It would have taken a perfect play to nail the speedy Garcia. It wasn't perfect. Bonderman's throw was high, pulling Iglesias off the bag, both runners safe.
It was all downhill, and quickly, from there.
Bonderman shattered Danks' bat, resulting in a de-facto sacrifice, a ground ball to first moving both runners into scoring position. The bases were then loaded when the .194 hitting Tyler Flowers walked.
The lefty-swinging De Aza due at the plate and the bases full with one down, Leyland went to his left-handed specialist, the much-derided Phil Coke. The first pitch to De Aza was high and tight, under the chin, inches away from a walk-off beaning.
It only delayed the inevitable. De Aza lined a 1-2 pitch into right for a game-winning single, Coke joining Al Alburquerque in the "why are they still pitching for the Tigers?" doghouse.
A game of wasted opportunities over. The final score is White Sox 4, Tigers 3.
To the Tigers' credit, they once again came back late to tie the game. But just as we saw in New York, they just couldn't push across that lead run. So the Tigers are now losers of 4-of-5 after the 12-game winning streak.
This game was another reason why baseball managers need to think out of the box occasionally. Joaquin Benoit is arguably the Tigers' best, most consistent reliever. Yet he never saw the field, in the vain hope they would need Benoit in a save opportunity. Instead, we got Bonderman and Coke. You saw how it ended.
Alburquerque and Coke being used in anything remotely high leverage is indefensible. Leyland continues to "try and get them going," yet the same results keep happening over and over again. I'm sure you know what they call doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...
Losers of three straight for the first time since June 29-July 1, the Tigers' drop to 69-49 on the season. The Indians won and the Royals lost, meaning the Tigers' Central division lead holds at six games.
The series finale with the White Sox had Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.32 ERA) facing left-hander John Danks (2-9, 4.52 ERA). Porcello has been pitching well and not lost a decision since June 30. Kid Rick is 4-0, 2.33 over the six-start stretch. Danks has been victimized by a lack of run support, the White Sox scoring two runs or less in four of his last seven starts. But a lack of support is not just to blame, as Danks' numbers in that stretch (0-4, 4.66 ERA) attests. It's getaway day for the Tigers, meaning an afternoon first pitch of 2:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
If Alexei Ramirez was my team's #3 hitter, I would need to develop a serious drug problem to cope with it.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) August 14, 2013
Rogo is a little over the top, but his point is made. A tale of number three hitters:
Alexei Ramirez: .285/.309/.366, .675 OPS, 3 HR, 35 RBIs.
Miguel Cabrera: .366/.459/.692, 1.151 OPS, 37 HR, 111 RBIs.
Cabrera's slugging alone is higher than Ramirez's OPS!
Rod Allen quote of the night:
"Victor Martinez is the hottest player on the planet right now."
Rod, are you forgetting someone? Martinez has been hot, but Cabrera has been otherworldly, hitting .377/.468/.811 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in the second half.
When it comes to small ball, Matt Sussman has a tip for Jim Leyland.
Putting Tigers baserunners in motion usually requires at least two simple machines— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) August 14, 2013
I realize and very much appreciate the Tigers are a high-payroll team, but White Sox fans seem to believe it's even more inflated than the Yankees.
After Avisail Garcia tripled in the fourth, you knew this quote would make an appearance:
"There are going to be games where Avisail beats us, and people will say I'm an idiot, but you have to give up talent to get talent." Dave D— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) August 14, 2013
Though at that point of the game, the Tigers down 3-1, I'd be more likely to blame an offense unable to give Hector Santiago a knockout blow than Garcia.
Victor Martinez is so slow, but hits the ball so hard...
Victor Martinez produces longer singles than Iron Butterfly— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) August 14, 2013
For the youngsters at BYB who don't get the reference: Iron Butterfly, In A Gadda Da Vida -1969
There were five extra-inning games tonight, the most since June 8, 2011, three of which featured sacrifice bunts. Not one had set up a score, including the sacrifices made by the Tigers in the tenth and 11th.
By my count there has now been 4 sac bunts in 3 different extra inning games, which managed to bring 4 outs and 0 runs. CC: @jonahkeri— Josh Kopelman (@Josh_Kopelman) August 14, 2013
Of course, the White Sox lay one down, and it's part of a game winning rally. Baseball is a funny game.
Omar Infante: The Tigers' second baseman's offense had been missed, coming back with a vengeance with three singles and an RBI.
Max Scherzer: Not one of Scherzer's better outings as of late ... which is saying something, considering it was a quality start. Scherzer allowed three runs, only two earned, on four hits over six innings.
Brayan Pena: Three hits and an RBI for the Food Truck.
Austin Jackson: Not a good night for Jackson, 0-for-6 with two strikeouts, stranding runners by the bus load.
Jeremy Bonderman: Put the Tigers behind the 8-ball in the 11th with walks and questionable decisions.
Phil Coke: Has one job at this point, retire left-handed bats. He can't even do that anymore, De Aza getting the game winner.
Left field: Matt Tuiasosopo (0-for-2) and Andy Dirks (0-for-3) combined on an 0-for-5 night.
Miguel Cabrera: Playing through his injuries caught up with Cabrera for the first time in an 0-for-5 night. He had trouble bending over to handle Infante's fourth-inning throw, which resulted in a run-scoring error. Cabrera was too hobbled to beat out what is normally an RBI infield single in the 11th. A healthy Cabrera beats it out, the run scores and Joaquin Benoit is pitching the 11th. Instead, Cabrera's out, Bonderman and Coke pitch the 11th, game over. Welp, that's baseball.
Post game pressers with just FSD media: When it's someone associated with FSD asking questions during the Tigers' post game presser, Leyland is lobbed nothing but softballs. Then again, when Leyland is talking through a mouth full of potato salad, that might be good thing.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|4||Trout Jefferson||Rally Hawkception!|
|3||BadCompany22||There are children that are three days old that have never seen this team win!|
Jose Iglesias had an infield single in the Tigers' 6-2 loss to the White Sox. But he was voted player of the game with 58% of the vote, thanks to his exceptional defense, specifically a remarkable sixth-inning put out which will go down as one of THE plays of the 2013 MLB season.