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White Sox 5, Tigers 4: Detroit Bullpen Breakdown

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The Tigers were up 4-0 until Chicago chipped away at the lead, eventually going ahead in the eighth.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It is autumn.

The leaves are beginning to turn shades of red, orange and yellow.

The birds are making plans to head south for the winter.

There’s a chill in the air which signals a change is about to come.

And the Tigers... well, I guess there’s always next year.

— JT Law

I mean, sure, I was inspired by Red Green to write this little morsel of prose. How could I not be? He’s a man who reveres duct tape, acknowledges his shortcomings all too readily, and somehow puts up with his idiotic nephew who also produces the show.

So, here we are. The season’s ending, and there’s hope for next year and beyond, with the Toledo tater-mashers doing their thing and the young, innings-limited hurlers with the big club looking to really stretch their wings in ‘22. For the first time in a while, we’re playing out the string, but we’re also looking forward to brighter days in the near future. Hop on the bandwagon now, folks; good seats are still available.

Tonight’s task for the Tigers, though, was evening-out the series from last night’s 8-1 curb-stomping. They’d hold the lead for most of the game, but eventually the Chicagoans would come back to take and hold the lead, winning 5-4.

Matt Manning got the nod for Detroit tonight; his last three starts of the year have come against the White Sox, a formidable foe. Manning’s year has been... well... y’know, he’s a rookie, so he’s going to get roughed-up a bit. I always think of Crash Davis, giving his final piece of advice to Nuke LaLoosh after he got called up to The Show: “You be cocky and arrogant, even when you’re getting beat. That’s the secret. You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance.” Maybe Manning had that in his head tonight.

Facing Manning tonight was the savvy veteran, Lucas Giolito. He’s had a solid year with his ERA and FIP in the mid-3’s, and though his strikeouts per 9 innings are down a couple of ticks from last year, he’s still above 10 per 9, which is pretty solid. He’d faced the Tigers four times so far this season already, and hadn’t been particularly good against them in any of those starts; his previous outing against Detroit, on July 4, was pretty lousy.

Tiger hitters were aggressive against Giolito early on, swinging at lots of first pitches. On the flipside, Manning decided tonight was when he was going to really air out his fastball, touching 98 mph (158 km/h).

In the third, a walk and a single put two White Stockings runners on with two out. However, a 1-2 slider off the outside corner got Luis Robert to strike out, and that ended the threat.

Robbie Grossman hit a nice statistic in the fourth inning: after a leadoff single, he stole second base for his 20th steal of the season. Pair that with his 23 home runs so far, and that makes Grossman a member of the 20-20 Club (along with 23 doubles, for good measure). Grossman took third on a long fly ball by Miguel Cabrera, and a two-out single by Jeimer Candelario scored him. I’ve really been enjoying all these extra bases the Tigers have been taking this year, through steals, extra bases on singles and doubles, and overall aggression. The swings in the fourth were getting much better, with two home runs (by Cabrera and Isaac Paredes) going just foul.

Manning continued his great outing with a three-pitch swinging strikeout of Eloy Jimenez to end the fourth. His pitch sequencing was really interesting and unique tonight, keeping White Sox hitters off-kilter. His command allowed him to slightly expand the strike zone; to wit, his fourth-inning leadoff strikeout-looking against Jose Abreu had strike three a bit off the plate, but he’d worked that way during the at-bat and he hit his spot. Through four innings, he’d thrown 51 pitches, 36 for strikes.

In the fifth, Yoan Moncada led off with a double to the right-field wall. That’s when Manning bore down and got nasty: Gavin Sheets struck out swinging, Adam Engel lined-out to center, and Leury Garcia struck out on a curveball.

Yella-hammer!

Giolito’s night was done after five innings, as Tony La Russa is setting his pitching staff up for the playoffs, and Ryan “No Relation To Aaron” Burr took over. He allowed the first two batters to reach base, but a strikeout and a double play took care of the Tigers in the sixth.

Similarly, Manning’s night was done after that gorgeous strikeout of Garcia, and José Ureña took over. Whatever was in the water for Manning seemed to be there for Ureña as well, as he came out firing at 96 mph (154 km/h) and had a 1-2-3 sixth against the top of the Sox’ lineup.

Dallas Keuchel, who’s having probably the toughest full season of his career, came on for the seventh. Isaac Paredes hit a one-out infield single, took second on a wild pitch-strikeout of Harold Castro, and Eric Haase made it a 2-0 game with a single to left, Paredes coming around to score from second. Daz Cameron followed with a double to score Haase, pushing the lead to 3-0. Akil Baddoo walked and Grossman kept the line right on moving, as he hit a single to score Cameron to make it 4-0, chasing Keuchel as some boos rained down from the New Comiskey “faithful.”

Seriously: don’t boo your own team. That’s poor taste. Matt Foster took over and got the third out, but the damage had been done.

Ureña gave up a leadoff double to Yasmani Grandal in the bottom of the seventh. He then froze Jimenez on a high slider for a strikeout, but a bad-hop grounder from Moncada jumped over Cabrera and into right field, narrowing the gap to 4-1. Gavin Sheets followed with a single, bringing Chicago to within two, and Chris Fetter came out to the mound to talk to Ureña, who of course struck out Engel on three pitches.

That was the end of Ureña’s day, and Alex Lange — a.k.a. “Jose Abreu’s Worst Enemy” — was brought in to face Garcia with two outs and a runner on first. He singled to left, putting runners on first and second, bringing the dangerous Tim Anderson to the plate. Anderson jumped on a fastball, singling and scoring Sheets, making it 4-3, but then Lange managed to strike out Robert to end the threat.

In the bottom of the eighth, Kyle Funkhouser came on to start the inning. He looked totally in control of the situation, striking out Abreu and Grandal, but then lightning struck quickly: Jimenez walked, then Moncada hit an opposite-field two-run home run, putting Chicago up 5-4.

Dammit, Funk!

Anyway, clearly, the Tigers had some work to do in the top of the ninth, and they’d have to get it done against White Socks closer Liam Hendriks, who’s averaging under 1 walk and over 13 strikeouts per 9 innings. The Tigers went 1-2-3, the Hosiery Department won the game, and the crowd sounded... I don’t know, man. I don’t know about those people.

That’s Some Pretty Nice Company, Robbie

News and Stats

  • Akil Baddoo’s OPS by month: .814, .850, .889, .756, .480, .740. That low-OPS month was August, in which he only played 13 games (after the collision with Derek Hill). Nice to see he’s ending his impressive rookie season on a bit of an up-note.
  • Coming into tonight’s game, Jonathan Schoop had a 12-game hitting streak. In that stretch he hit .340/.396/.532 for a .928 OPS, including a pair of home runs and a trio of doubles.
  • Am I the only one that hears the crowd noise at White Sox games and thinks they sound particularly... unruly? Ragged? Unhinged? I don’t want to paint a fanbase with a broad brush here, but I don’t exactly think New Comiskey — look, I can’t be bothered to learn what they keep changing their stadium’s name to, so I’m sticking with that — is the site of your regular “Rhodes Scholar Round-Table” gatherings.
  • I did notice that the staff at New Comiskey played a short clip of Boz Scaggs’ “Lido Shuffle” after every Lucas Giolito strikeout.
  • That AL Wild Card race is going to come down to the wire, for sure, with a four-way tie still in play. There’ll be plenty of scoreboard-watching going on tomorrow... and with all the games starting at 3 pm EDT and ending right around the same time, make sure you’re around a radio, internet connection, local town crier, or whatever you need to get that information! (Me, I got suckered into going apple-picking. I tried to explain that apples were readily available in supermarkets, to no avail.)
  • On this day in 1800, Nat Turner was born. When I was perusing the list of birthdays for today, that name jumped out at me as one I’d read before, but I didn’t really know too much about him. Well, this article certainly described why he’s worth reading about, for sure. Certainly a pivotal figure in American history.