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Hicks’ ninth inning heroics earn Tigers a split in Chicago

Tigers lose the opener 7-1, win the nightcap 4-3

MLB: Game One-Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Soxs Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

On this date five years ago, the Detroit Tigers clinched their fourth consecutive division title. Much has changed in that time span. With a new owner, a new general manager, and a completely new roster, save for Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers have reached depths of despair surpassed only once in their storied franchise history.

As a merciful end to the 2019 season draws near, John Hicks gave the Tigers something to celebrate, as his three run homer in the ninth inning salvaged a split of the twin bill against the Chicago White Sox, giving the Tigers a 4-3 victory after dropping the opener by a 7-1 score.


Detroit sent their all star starting pitcher to the mound in Matt Boyd to face off against Chicago’s Reynaldo Lopez in the opener. Boyd worked four innings, allowing four runs, two of them earned, on six hits with four strikeouts. He finishes the season with a record of 9-12 and a 4.56 ERA.

Cabrera put the Tigers on top in the first inning with his 11th home run of the season, but that was all the scoring that the Tigers could muster in this game. After two scoreless frames pitched by Boyd, Harold Castro’s error in the top of the third put Yolmer Sanchez on base. He moved to second on a single by Adam Engel, and scored on another single off the bat of Ryan Cordell. Boyd then walked Jose Abreu and Engel game home to score on a passed ball by Grayson Greiner. Chicago netted two unearned runs to take a 2-1 lead.

Three singles and a double in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the White Sox two more runs to push their lead to 4-1. Cabrera’s home run was the only Detroit hit allowed by Lopez until Victor Reyes singled in the top of the fifth inning, and he was erased attempting to steal second.

Edwin Jackson came on in relief for Detroit, working three innings and allowing three runs, all on home runs. Danny Mendick hit a two run shot in the bottom of the sixth inning and Eloy Jimenez added a solo shot in the seventh to close out the scoring at 7- 1. Jackson’s ERA climbed to 9.58 for the season.

Boyd held a 2.58 ERA / 2.56 FIP through the end of May. Since then, he has allowed 71 earned runs in 112 23 innings for an ERA of 5.67. The main culprit has been a gaudy home ratio of 2.65 homers per nine innings pitched.

Line Score:

Chicago: 7 runs, 10 hits, 0 errors

Detroit: 1 run, 5 hits, 1 error


In the night cap, Tyler Alexander took the mound against the White Sox’s Ivan Nova. Zach Collins gave the pale hose the lead in the bottom of the second inning with a two run single, scoring Jimenez and James McCann.

Alexander worked five innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits while striking out four batters. His season is finished with a 4.80 ERA / 4.14 FIP across eight starts. His weak spot is an opponents’ batting average of .299, which includes a home run ratio of just under 1.5 home runs per nine innings.

The Tigers got on the board in the top of the sixth inning when Gordon Beckham and Reyes singled, followed by a walk to Jordy Mercer. Aaron Bummer relieved Nova and was greeted with a bases loaded RBI single by Jeimer Candelario, making the score 2-1 Chicago. The Tigers still had the bases loaded with no outs, but they squandered the opportunity. Christin Stewart grounded into a fielder’s choice resulting in a force out at home. Ronny Rodriguez struck out and Dawel Lugo grounded out to first base to end the threat.

Jose Cisnero came on in relief for Detroit, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning with one strikeout. Bryan Garcia entered the game for the Tigers retiring the White Sox in order in the seventh inning, striking out two batters.

Candelario doubled into the left field corner off Evan Marshall with two outs in the eighth inning to put the tying run in scoring position, but Stewart was caught looking on a called third strike to end the inning.

Buck Farmer worked the bottom of the eighth inning for the Tigers, pitching the third scoreless inning for the Detroit bullpen.

Jesus Colome came on in the ninth inning with a save opportunity for the White Sox. Ronny Rodriguez led off the inning and reached base on a throwing error by Tim Anderson, his 26th error of the season which is most in the major leagues. After Lugo flied out to right field, Travis Demeritte singled through the infield, putting runners at the corners with one out.

John Hicks, pinch hitting for Jake Rogers, blasted a three run homer inside the foul pole down the left field line to put the Tigers up 4-2. After Beckham struck out swinging, Reyes laced a double into the gap in left center field, but he was stranded when Mercer grounded out to end the inning.

Joe Jimenez came in with a save opportunity for the Tigers in the ninth inning with Hicks behind the plate. Sanchez struck out to lead off the inning, and then Yoan Moncada, pinch hitting for Mendick, hit a 420 foot home run into the right field seats to cut the lead to 4- 3. Jimenez got Collins to fly out to right field, then struck out Daniel Palka to seal the victory for the Tigers.

Line Score:

Detroit: 4 runs, 8 hits, 0 errors

Chicago: 3 runs, 8 hits, 1 error

Buck Farmer gets the win for Detroit, and Alex Colome takes the loss for Chicago, with Joe Jimenez picking up his 9th save of the season.

113 losses is the second most in Detroit Tigers’ franchise history, and fourth most in the history of the American league since it began play in 1901. The Baltimore Orioles lost 115 games in 2018. That’s a mark that the Tigers will not reach after Friday’s cancellation and Saturday’s split victory.

The Tigers will wrap up the 2019 season against the White Sox on Sunday, with a scheduled start time of 3:10 p.m. EDT. Spencer Turnbull is scheduled to pitch for Detroit.