After checking off nine straight wins to start the season, Chris Sale has spent two weeks looking for his tenth. The Tigers wouldn't give it to him, defeating the White Sox 7-4 on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon for their 26th win.
Tigers starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (1-5) has struggled in first innings all season long, allowing baserunners at a .460 rate in ten opening frames. Saturday would be no exception, as Pelfrey gave up three straight singles to lead off the game before settling down to end the inning with only one run scored.
White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (9-2) experienced first-inning jitters of his own, loading the bases with one out and conceding a run on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly. Sale would finish the inning with the score tied at one, having thrown 32 pitches.
An Adam Eaton leadoff triple in the third came around to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead, and a wary Tigers fanbase held its breath for the coming implosion. But Pelfrey held strong through the sixth inning, allowing no further scoring.
J.D. Martinez rewarded the embattled pitcher by putting him in line for the win, blasting a two-run shot over the visiting bullpen in the bottom of the sixth to give the Tigers their first lead. A Jose Iglesias double would come around in the seventh off an RBI single from Cameron Maybin, pushing the advantage to 4-2.
Meanwhile, the bullpen was holding up its end. Newly reactivated Shane Greene came out in the seventh, retiring the side with two strikeouts. Justin Wilson held the top of the eighth with a strikeout and inducing a double play.
The Tigers poured it on in a screwball bottom of the eighth, thanks in part to a pair of bunts: an awkward stumbler from James McCann to advance runners to second and third, then a perfectly executed safety squeeze by Mike Aviles that White Sox pitcher Matt Albers failed to pick up cleanly, scoring J.D. Martinez. Andrew Romine beat the throw home on the next play to score the inning's second run, then a Maybin single plated Aviles. 7-2, Tigers.
The extra runs would prove critical. Mark Lowe took over in the ninth to close out the five-run lead, but a pair of singles and a two-out double by Adam Eaton brought the Sox within three. Brad Ausmus reluctantly turned to Francisco Rodriguez to get the final out, obliging by popping up Tyler Saladino.
- J.D. Martinez: three RBIs, including a no-doubt, go-ahead blast in the sixth.
- Mike Pelfrey: six innings, five hits, three walks, two runs allowed, and a refreshing quality start for his first win of the season.
- Cameron Maybin: continues his red-hot return to Detroit, with three hits and two RBIs.
- Shane Greene: a welcome return from the disabled list and a hopeful boost to shaky pitching staff.
- Ian Kinsler: A rare 0-5 day for the veteran second baseman.
- White Sox outfielders Jason Coats and J.B. Shuck collided violently on a deep Miguel Cabrera fly ball in the seventh that the wind kept in the park. Coats made the play, but left the game with possible concussion symptoms.