The birthday boy, Mike Fiers, started for the Tigers and was very good before, well, he wasn’t. The bullpen held on, the offense eked out another run, and the Tigers beat the White Sox 4-3 to open their three-game weekend series.
After an uneventful first inning, John Hicks put a charge in one in the second and put it over the right-center field fence for a 1-0 Tigers lead. James McCann then blooped a two-out single, Victor Reyes followed suit, but Dixon Machado killed the mini-rally with a flyout.
Leonys Martin and Nick Castellanos sandwiched singles around a long Jeimer Candelario flyout in the third. Victor Martinez may have had 22 games since his last home run, but a double down the right-field line drove in both Martin and Castellanos to put the Tigers up 3-0.
Top of the fourth, McCann led off with a single and took third on a two-out single by Martin. With Candelario at the plate Martin took off for second, and when the throw went to second, McCann broke for home fairly late. Now, I’m no baseball wizard, but if I’m a relatively slow catcher, maybe I don’t try to pull off a play like this? You can probably imagine what resulted from all this tomfoolery, so I needn’t rehash the unpleasant details here. May have been a designed play with two outs, but, no good.
Fiers scattered a few hits over the first five innings but mostly had the White Sox in his pocket: great command, solid defense, lots of popups and soft ground balls. He’ll put runners on base, sure, but he’ll usually wiggle out of trouble, right?
Well, not in the sixth. Daniel Palka and Matt Davidson singled, and the immortal Omar Narvaez clubbed a three-run home run to right to tie the game at three. Fiers’ next pitch was a 73 mph curveball which hit Tim Anderson, and that ended Fiers’ night (amongst ooohs and aaahs from the crowd). Louis Coleman came on to induce a nifty double play and end the inning, but the damage was done. So much for Fiers’ stellar start.
To that end, Evan Woodberry had this keen observation:
They have been extremely judicious about letting Fiers pitch deep into games this year. He's frequently been pulled early, even with a low pitch count.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) June 16, 2018
He has pitched to exactly one batter after going 3 times through the order. https://t.co/J0Z5mos9Wg
Chicago put on a Pitchers’ Parade in the seventh (featuring old friend Bruce Rondon), using three relievers to face four guys. Maybe there’s something to limiting the number of pitching changes in a game, I don’t know. Sure does bring the game’s pace down, grumble grumble, attracting new fans, grumble grumble, good old days.
About Rondon, though... the first time he faced the Tigers, he struck out the side. The next time, he gave up three runs. Which Rondon would show up? Hard to say; he got Candelario to ground out, but then walked Castellanos on a full-count pitch. We’ll call it a push.
Coleman stuck around to whiff the first two Sox in the bottom of the seventh, gave up a bunt single, and then it was Buck Farmer time because Joe Jimenez had worked in two straight games. It was no big deal for Buck, of course, to get Jose Abreu to fly out to centre.
The eighth saw a Hicks single and a Niko Goodrum walk; McCann flied out to right and Hicks advanced to third. Goodrum stole second, and Victor Reyes grounded one to first... which Abreu promptly bobbled, allowing Hicks to score.
In the bottom of the eighth Alex Wilson was greeted by a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt, and Tim Anderson was intentionally walked. The next batter, Charles Tilson, had grounded into two double plays on the night to that point; the plan partially worked, as a soft grounder to first and a throw home got the lead runner. The speedy Adam Engel dribbled a grounder just past the mound and Iglesias — just in the game — charged and made a great play to throw out Engel at first and end the inning. Well played, Gardy. Well played.
Shane Greene’s ninth inning was fairly ho-hum, just the way we like ‘em: groundout, lineout, infield hit on a tough play, popup. Victory!
Those wacky radio guys
“Dan, I got a question for you. Ronaldo, who’s he play for?”
— Jim Price, soccer novice
“It’s a great look, and you wonder why it ever went out of style.”
— Dan Dickerson, on mullets, possibly facetiously but not sure
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
This poll is closed
John Hicks, 2-4, HR, 2 R
James McCann, 3-4
Shane Greene, 1.0 IP, SV