Kyle Lobstein pitched a gem to restore order to the Detroit Tigers and Victor Martinez had another big day at the plate. Smart baserunning and a lockdown outing by closer Joakim Soria gave the Tigers a 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, avoiding the sweep to end the road trip.
The offense continued to frustrate and that was the case again on Thursday. Several times the Tigers put men in scoring position, and every time they scored no more than one run, with one exception. That would come in the eighth when Detroit loaded the bases and scored two thanks to a leadoff double by Ian Kinsler and two RBI driven in by Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos.
But while the offense struggled with timely hitting, the soft-tossing left-handed starter did what Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene could not. Lobstein (2-2) held the White Sox to just three hits and two walks, striking out 3 in the process. Lobstein did fall into trouble in the fourth, loading the bases and giving up an RBI single. But he got help defensively from Castellanos on a 5-2 double play that was followed by a ground ball out to end what could've been a messy inning.
All of Lobstein's outs were quick and only four batters reached a five-pitch count, White Sox batters waving awkwardly against the lefty throughout the game. Lobstein gave the Tigers 7 2/3 of five-hit ball, giving up just the one run in the fourth. But after a single given up to Melky Cabrera, Lobstein's day was done at 100 pitches, one shy of his career-high.
Tigers closer Joakim Soria came on to get the final out and struck out Jose Abreu swinging on four pitches, the first of which should've been a strike but was called a ball -- despite it clearly landing in the strike zone. Soria then slammed the door on the White Sox as he struck out the side in the ninth, all swinging, handing the Tigers a win in convincing fashion.
Kyle Lobstein: Dominated the White Sox batters, limiting them to just five hits and a run through 7 2/3 innings. Following the RBI single by Avisail Garcia in the fourth, Lobstein retired nine consecutive batters before allowing a soft single in the seventh.
Joakim Soria: Four batters faced, four struck out, all swinging. It doesn't get any better than that.
Miguel Cabrera: After being hit by a pitch in the first, Cabrera motored to third on a single by Victor Martinez. Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk against Jose Quintana but the pitch was wild and Cabrera's head's up baserunning allowed him to score, giving the Tigers an early lead.
Victor Martinez: Finished 3-for-4 with an RBI (right-handed), which gave the Tigers a crucial 3-1 lead in the eighth.
Rajai Davis: Didn't get a hit through six but he manufactured a run in the fifth, the go-ahead run for the Tigers. After he walked and Ian Kinsler's single put him at second, Davis stole third base on his own, then alertly came home following a groundout RBI by Cabrera.
Timely hitting: Once again the Tigers were devoid of key hits with runners in scoring position for most of the game. Detroit had two early chances to blow Quintana out of the game, but aside from Cabrera scoring on the wild pitch in the first, they had nothing to show for it. Particularly in the third inning, the Tigers had runners on second and third base but came up empty. In the eighth they spoiled a golden opportunity to break the game open by scoring just twice after loading the bases.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Kyle Lobstein and David Price are the only two left-handed Tigers starters to have gone at least seven innings in three consecutive outings since Kenny Rogers did it. (via Jason Beck)
- Joakim Soria made just his second four-out appearance in relief on Thursday since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. The other time was when Soria was with the Rangers in 2013 during Game 163. It was just the first four-out save for Soria since 2010.
- Joakim Soria is just the third closer in Tigers history to record a four-out, four-strikeout save, joining John Hiller (April 18, 1976) and Hank Aguirre (June 20, 1961) in accomplishing the feat. However, Hillar and Aguirre allowed a walk and a hit, respectively, in their outings. Soria is therefore the first Tigers closer in the history of the club to retire all four batters faced without a runner reaching first. (via Matthew Mowery)
- Victor Martinez's ground-rule double in the second inning was just his second non-home run extra-base hit of the season. His last was on April 19, also against the White Sox, and also a ground-rule double. Martinez has three extra-base hits in all, the third being a two-run home run hit Wednesday night.
- Ian Kinsler rushed a throw in the fourth inning and was charged with an error. It was his first error of the year, and his first since Sept. 20, 2014.
- Rajai Davis stole third base in the fifth inning following a walk, his third stolen base of third base for the season. The stolen base was his seventh overall, which leads the team.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: