This was a typical Francisco Liriano outing: relative dominance that evaporated with a quickness once the White Sox lineup had gotten a few looks at him. The Tigers offense was nearly all provided by Jeimer Candelario, and they lost 8-4 to square the series at a game apiece.
The offense staked Liriano to an early lead, putting a pair of runs on Sox lefty Hector Santiago in the first inning. Nicholas Castellanos reached on a Tim Anderson throwing error, and Candelario, batting right-handed, mashed a big ol’ tater over the visitor’s bullpen to give them a quick 2-0 lead. Niko Goodrum smoked a two-out triple off the out-of-town scoreboard, but was stranded. Two innings later, it was Candelario again going yard with a solo shot to left field for his seventh round-tripper of the year.
Meanwhile, Liriano was doing his thing. Battling home plate umpire Chris Guccione and his strike zone of doom, Liriano leaked a run in the second, but was generally in total control. There wasn’t much at all in the way of hard contact, but the White Sox took some close two-strike pitches and survived through some lengthy at bats. As one expects, Liriano was burning through his pitch count a bit over the first three frames.
Jose Abreu got to Liriano for an RBI double in the third. However, he rebounded with a quick fourth, including another pair of strikeouts. Liriano had seven punchouts to three walks, allowing just two hits, and the Tigers were in control with a 3-1 lead.
Things started to unravel for Liriano in the fifth, just as he face the White Sox lineup for the third time. His stuff was still good, but the location failed him on two key pitches. He got a quick strikeout early in the inning, and had Tim Anderson looking bad and down 0-2. Liriano set Anderson up with a perfect fastball just inside for ball one. Unfortunately, he then grooved a two-seamer middle-up in the zone, and Anderson deposited it in the Tigers’ bullpen.
Liriano angrily punched out Yolmer Sanchez on three nasty pitches and was still sitting with a chance for a good start. But he had another mistake left in him in the fifth. With two outs, he again left a fastball up with two strikes. This time it was to the best hitter in the lineup, Jose Abreu, and Abreu managed to lob one over the right field wall for a solo shot that knotted things at 3-3.
Liriano started the sixth and quickly surrendered another solo shot to right off the bat of Daniel Palka. Liriano was melting down, and the White Sox were dialing him in. A single to Yoan Moncada ended his outing. A strong four innings turned into a debacle of a start for the left-hander.
Louis Coleman came on to try to finish the sixth, and the White Sox continued to chip away. With two-on and two-out, Tim Anderson came to the plate for the second time in the inning, and once again launched a bomb, this time a three-run shot that put the White Sox ahead 7-3 and basically ended the game.
Artie Lewicki surrendered a run in the seventh, looking unimpressive, but the Tigers couldn’t manage anything offensively, so Ron Gardenhire sent Lewicki back out in the 8th to save the rest of the bullpen with a long, long string of consecutive games ahead. And once Lewicki settled in he was alright, striking out a pair in a clean inning. He also spun a scoreless ninth, mixing his decent starter’s arsenal up to keep the White Sox in check the rest of the way.
The Tigers did muster a legitimate threat in the 8th. Singles from Martinez and Goodrum were followed by a ground out and a pop-up from James McCann. Jose Iglesias then walked on five pitches to load the bases. Good patience Iggy! Leonys Martin came into the game to pinch hit for Victor Reyes—who, by the way, knifed a single to right in his first at bat—but Martin unfortunately grounded out to waste the Tigers last shot at a comeback.
Jones and Castellanos made quick outs in the bottom of the ninth. Candelario battled Joakim Soria to draw a 10-pitch walk, and waltzed to second via defensive indifference with Pete Kozma pinch-hitting. Kozma spanked a routine grounder to SS Tim Anderson, but Anderson botched the play. Candelario, cruised around third, and then broke full speed for home. Anderson threw it in the dirt and catcher Alfredo Gonzalez couldn’t pick it. The score was still just 8-4, with Kozma on second, as Niko Goodrum drilled a shot to left-center that was run down to end the game.
Double your pleasure
With Jose Iglesias’s ground rule double in the fourth, the Tigers now have a double in 42 consecutive games, one short of the franchise record. We’ll see if they can get that obscure feat accomplished on Sunday.
JaCoby Jones is lost again
As we discussed at length throughout JaCoby Jones’ modestly impressive April, the key question is whether he can hone enough discipline to adjust as pitchers started to take him seriously. So far, the answer is a resounding no. Jones has clearly improved his swing, and is more comfortable tracking and making contact with good breaking balls. There has still been hard contact, but with no walks, and Jones consistently missing his best pitches to hit, it’s looking rather bleak. At this point he’s swinging at everything and struggling to lay off anything in reach.
There’s time to adjust, and Jones does have a modest minor league track record of drawing walks. However, with every game he looks more frustrated and desperate at the plate, and pitchers are just abusing him by getting ahead early and letting him get himself out without having to throw anything in the strike zone. We have nothing to lose, and the tools are there, so there’s no harm in continuing to play him all summer. But right now, he could probably use a few days off to clear his head.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
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Jeimer the Gamer