In a game that got weird before the players even took the field, the Detroit Tigers bullpen finally cracked, and the Tigers went down to defeat on a walkoff RBI single by Adam Eaton.
A few hours before the game, Chris Sale, who had been scheduled to start, was pulled from his start and sent home, leading to an eruption of speculation as to where he'd been traded. The truth, as we later discovered, was far stranger. While the team was on the field for pre-game workouts, Sale, who apparently had a serious dislike of the throwback jerseys the White Sox were set to wear in Saturday night's contest, took a pair of scissors to every jersey in the Sox locker room. The White Sox organization, predictably, took umbrage at this tantrum, and sent Chris Sale to his room to think about what he'd done.
Meanwhile, the game was delayed for several minutes by heavy rain. It wouldn't be the last time.
In Sale's place, was Matt Albers and the White Sox bullpen. And as so often happens in these situations, the Tigers couldn't take advantage. Cameron Maybin manufactured a run on his own in the first inning. After slashing a single to right, Maybin stole second, took third on a poor throw, and rambled home on a Miguel Cabrera groundout. A bases loaded rally in the 2nd died when Victor Martinez smoked a line drive straight into Todd Frazier's glove. It wasn't the first, nor the last hard-hit ball off Tiger bats to head directly at a defender.
In the meantime, Matt Boyd pitched quite well for the Tigers again. Unfortunately, Nick Castellanos surrendered a pair of two-hit errors that led to a pair of runs in the second inning. And then the rains came, causing a hour and a half delay until play could resume.
Surprisingly, Boyd returned to the mound to save the Tigers' bullpen after the long delay. He wasn't as sharp, giving up a solo shot to Avisail Garcia in the fourth. He exited with two men on in the fifth, and Brad Ausmus called on Alex Wilson who squelched the one-out threat. Wilson came back out in the sixth and pitched another fine inning of relief to keep the game close. Bruce Rondon did his part as well, striking out a pair and hitting triple digits in the seventh.
The Tigers closed the gap to 3-2 in the sixth, as Justin Upton ripped a screaming line drive over the right-field wall with no one on for his 11th home run on the year. Finally in the 8th, the hapless Tigers' offense managed to tie the game. A walk and a stolen base put Cameron Maybin at second. After a Miguel Cabrera strike out, the White Sox intentionally walked Victor Martinez, and Nick Castellanos made them pay. The Tigers' third baseman fought off several tough Nate Jones' offerings before singling to right to score Maybin.
In the eighth, Ausmus went to Shane Greene who went right through the heart of the White Sox order, striking out Melky Cabrera and giving up a walk to Todd Frazier. Another fine performance under pressure by the dominant Tigers' relief ace. Unfortunately, as Greene was working against Tyler Saladino for the final out of the eighth, the sky opened up for the third time in the game.
After a delay, and with heavy rain forecast overnight, the decision was made around midnight to resume the game on Sunday afternoon.
When play finally resumed, the Tigers managed a two-out threat when Ian Kinsler doubled in the top of the ninth. Cameron Maybin failed to bring him home, striking out instead.
Brad Ausmus turned to Justin Wilson to shepherd the tie-game into extra innings, but he was unable to lock down the bottom of the ninth. Avisail Garcia singled, stole second and rode home on an Adam Eaton opposite field single to walk this one off. All in all an extremely long and frustrating loss in a game that was set up for the Tigers to romp.
The competition of best Chris Sale gifs was one of the highlights of the rain delays.
Matt Boyd: Went 4 1/3 innings, surrendering just one earned run with four strikeouts. Another solid outing, with bonus points for giving the Tigers a few more innings after the rain delay.
Justin Upton: Hammered a ball straight to shortstop in his first at bat, but struck gold in the sixth inning with a solo shot to right field.
110 mph estimate from Statcast on Justin Upton's line-drive HR, which basically skipped off top of RF fence and into Tigers bullpen. 3-2 Sox— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 24, 2016
Cameron Maybin: Three hits on the night, and Maybin almost single-handedly manufactured the first Tigers run with his bat and his legs. Also added a pair of stolen bases for another fine all around performance from the Tigers' centerfielder.
The Tigers' bullpen: Alex Wilson, Bruce Rondon and Shane Greene all did stellar work as the Tigers' bullpen continued its dominance. It feels really odd typing that last phrase.
Shane Greene still has an ERA of 4.46, and yet he's one of the ten best relievers in the AL— Nolan (@JOS_Tigers) July 24, 2016
Nick Castellanos: A brutal pair of errors on a pair of hard-hit balls in the second inning led directly to the Sox first two runs. The hiss is moderated by a fine at bat in the 8th when Castellanos singled in the tying run.
Miguel Cabrera: Three strikeouts, and didn't reach base once, stranding five baserunners in the process.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Matt Boyd had gone three starts and 19 innings without surrendering a home run until Avisail Garcia got him for a solo shot in the fourth.
- In 7 2/3 innings in July, Shane Greene has allowed one earned run, with a 9:1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
- Since June 18th, over 13 1/3 innings, Alex Wilson has allowed just a single earned run.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: