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Tigers 8, White Sox 4: Kyle Ryan shines in debut

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The Tigers bullpen nearly squandered a stellar performance from first-time starter Kyle Ryan, but a late burst of offense finally put away the White Sox for good.

Jeffrey Phelps

The Detroit Tigers out-dueled the Chicago White Sox in a battle of rookie first-timers to win the back end of Saturday's doubleheader, 8-4.

Kyle Ryan (1-0) earned the win for the Tigers, tossing six shutout innings in his major league debut. The win brings the Tigers to 74-61 on the season, just half a game behind the Kansas City Royals at the top of the AL Central.

Chris Bassitt (0-1) made the spot start for the White Sox, having impressed with a 1.56 ERA and 1.154 WHIP in 34.2 innings for Double-A Birmingham. The 25-year-old right-hander opened the game showing some of that promise, retiring the side in order.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old lefty Ryan came into the game for the Tigers with no less impressive numbers, pitching to a 1.64 ERA with a 0.788 WHIP over 33 innings for Triple-A Toledo. Ryan pitched into and out of trouble early, stranding a pair of base runners with an inning-ending double play from former Tiger Avisail Garcia.

"I started shaking immediately; my teeth started chattering." —Kyle Ryan, describing his reaction upon being told he would start for the Tigers

The Tigers struck first in the top of the third inning, leadoff batter Ezequiel Carrera doubling to left field and Rajai Davis singling him home. Davis swiped second and scored on Ian Kinsler’s soft blooper to left field, the beneficiary of an off-line throw from Dayan Viciedo. 2-0, Tigers.

Tigers threatened again in the fourth, loading the bases with one out for Kinsler. Bassitt tried to fool him with a 0-1 breaking ball away, but Kinsler was looking for it and knocked a grounder back up the middle to score two. Bassitt would then mishandle what should have been a double-play ball off Miguel Cabrera’s bat, allowing the Tigers to push the advantage to 5-0. The extra run would be costly, though, with Cabrera leaving the game after aggravating his injured ankle.

Meanwhile, Kyle Ryan was settling in nicely, retiring nine straight Sox batters into the fifth and leaving the box score with a string of zeroes after six. Ryan provided what the Tigers had no business expecting given recent experience: a drama-free spot start.

But drama would not be denied for long. Blaine Hardy came on in relief to throw a trouble-free seventh inning, but walked the leadoff man to start the eighth. Jim Johnson would take over and fail to make an out, giving up a double and a walk to load the bases with no one out.

Ausmus had seen enough, calling for Joba Chamberlain to pitch out of the bases-loaded jam. Chamberlain induced a ground ball to Kinsler off Avisail Garcia’s bat, looking like another 4-6-3 double-play. But Romine’s throw to first was off, appearing to pull Don Kelly off the bag. The run would score, with runners at the corners and one out for Dayan Viciedo.

Viciedo would render any controversy over the previous play moot, launching a 2-0 fastball deep into right center for a three-run home run. Tigers 5, White Sox 4. Chamberlain would retire the next two batters to end the inning, but the damage had been done.

Thankfully, the Tigers got nearly all of it back in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out on back-to-back singles by Kinsler and Castellanos and a Victor Martinez hit-by-pitch. First, J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly took the squander off the table, plating Kinsler. Then August Avila made a rare appearance, sending a single up the middle to score Castellanos from second. Finally, Don Kelly lined a changeup to right field, Martinez scoring from second with Avila on his heels. The throw from the outfield just beat Avila to the plate, ending the inning. But with the score now 8-4, the Tigers earned some much appreciated breathing room for Joe Nathan.

The mercurial closer wouldn’t need any of it, retiring the side in order. Tigers win!

The Tigers will attempt to clinch the series win Sunday afternoon, sending Rick Porcello (15-8, 3.06 ERA) against Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.48 ERA). First pitch is 2:20 PM Eastern.

ROARS:

  • Kyle Ryan: Six innings, five hits, two walks and no runs. No White Sox batter advanced past second base facing Ryan.
  • Ian Kinsler: 3-5 with 3 RBIs. Kinsler’s early clutch hitting set the tone for the day.
  • Ezequiel Carrera: 3-4 with two runs and two steals. Carrera and Davis hitting 9-1 is speed on top of speed.
  • Don Kelly: 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

HISSES:

  • Jim Johnson: The discarded closer hasn’t been any better for the Tigers than he was for the A’s, with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP in seven appearances.
  • Joba Chamberlain: Asked to clean up a messy gasoline spill, Chamberlain lit a match instead.  Repressed memories of Joaquin Benoit's tater to David Ortiz coming to surface.  Therapy budget increased.
  • Miguel Cabrera’s ankle: an injury-shortened 0-3 night dropped Cabrera’s batting average under .300 for the first time since May 16.  I’d hate for nagging late-season injuries to define his performance for two straight years.

NOTES:

  • Kyle Ryan is the 11th Tiger to start a game on the mound this season.
  • Andrew Romine was called out on a bang-bang play at first to lead off the sixth, which manager Brad Ausmus challenged and lost. The lack of a challenge would come up later during the eighth-inning, would-be double play ball that may or may not have pulled Don Kelly off the bag at first.
  • This happened on the Twitters earlier: BRING IT, KENNY.
  • KYLE RYAN is an anagram for YER LANKY.  Kyle Ryan is 6’5", 180 lbs.
  • CHRIS BASSITT is an anagram for a lot of things, most of them unprintable.
  • This weekend’s roster matchup features the players with the highest first name syllable-to-length ratio (initialized names ineligible) in the majors, Eugenio Suarez edging out Avisail Garcia for the title.
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2 Nonsuch Ned There wasn't a Thread of Shame for the first game