Expectations were not high on Sunday afternoon as the Detroit Tigers went with a bullpen game against Carlos Rodón and the powerhouse Chicago White Sox. In the end, getting a hit and a run on the day, and not getting blown out, were their only successes. Every time Detroit got a little momentum going, the White Sox return to remind them who runs the AL Central, and so it was in this one, as they downed the Tigers 4-1.
Early on, the Tigers held their own. The resurgent Kyle Funkhouser, taking to his new role as a reliever, spun 2 2⁄3 innings of solid ball to keep the White Sox quiet. Tyler Alexander leaked a run in the fourth on a leadoff double from Yoan Moncada and a Jose Abreu RBI single. Another single-double combination plated the Sox second run in the fifth, but all in all, two runs in through five innings was a better result than we expected.
However, Carlos Rodón was making sure no one got their hopes up. The flame-throwing southpaw allowed a walk to Isaac Paredes in the second inning, but through his first five innings Rodon racked up eight strikeouts and plenty of quick outs.
The Tigers recalled Buck Farmer prior to the game—telling us exactly how thin their options at Toledo were—in place of Beau Burrows, and Farmer came on in the sixth to quickly let us know nothing had changed since he was DFA’d. A pair of singles sandwiching a Yasmani Grandal strikeout started things off. Then Farmer hit Adam Engel with a changeup that sailed on him to load the bases. He bounced back to punch out Zach Collins on three pitches, and then lost the plot again. Another changeup sailed in and clipped Danny Mendick to force in a run and make it 3-0. Farmer couldn’t find the zone at all against Leury Garcia, walking him on four straight pitches to force in another run before Andrew Vaughn mercifully popped out to first to end the inning.
The game was 4-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, and on paper at least, wasn’t as hopeless as it felt with the no-no murmurs starting to percolate. Jake Rogers got up 2-0 to lead off the sixth, but ultimately flew out to right while Harold Castro followed with a quick routine ground out to second. Rodon did walk Robbie Grossman at that point, and with him running on contact the Tigers had a bit of an opportunity. Daz Cameron got a first-pitch changeup down and in and turned on it, lining it to left, but Andrew Vaughn was there to make the grab and end the inning.
Joe Jiménez managed to quiet the Sox in the seventh, pitching around a one-out double by Abreu, but by now the no-no alert system was fully engaged as Rodón took the mound at 78 pitches needing nine outs to turn the trick. He punched out Miguel Cabrera by spotting a slider on the outer edge for a called strike three, but then Eric Haase stepped to the dish.
Haase quickly fell behind as Rodón spotted a first pitch slider for a strike and then blazed a 99 mph fastball by him. Rodón spent the next three pitches fishing for the strikeout with sliders. He just missed low and then high, finally landing what appeared to be strike three with his third attempt, but home plate umpire Pat Hoberg, possibly not a fan of all these no-hitters, called it low. Haase fouled off a slider and then a 100 mph fastball before lashing another slider to left field for a double to break up the no-hitter.
As you’d imagine, there was much understandable gnashing and wailing on the Chicago side. The length of the at-bats in the seventh were potentially enough to spoil a no-hit bid anyway, but the pitch certainly looked to be in the zone. Such are the glories of the human element sometimes.
Rodón was a little hot, and quickly wild pitched Haase to third, where a Niko Goodrum sac fly to center field scored him. No-hitter bid gone. Shut-out bid gone. Series sweep bid? Still well on course.
From that point there was little drama to report. Bryan Garcia survived the eighth without a run allowed despite giving up a pair of singles. Evan Marshall took over for Rodon and burned through the Tigers 1-2-3 in the bottom half. Gregory Soto had the top of the ninth, looking to hold his team in position for an unlikely comeback, and he did so despite a walk allowed and a swinging bunt from Adam Eaton that went for a single.
However, the task at hand was tough. Score at least three runs against star closer Liam Hendriks. Daz Cameron got to him for a game-tying homer on Friday, but there were no such heroics here as Hendriks quickly put the Tigers down for the count in this series.
Playing the White Sox remains a pretty good reminder of how far the Tigers have to go to return to prominence atop the AL Central. And they don’t even have Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, or Nick Madrigal.
Hopefully, the bullpen day pays a dividend in getting the Tigers starters an extra rest day. They now embark on a seven-game road trip that will take them to KC for three starting Monday night, and then way out west to battle the Angels in a four-game set next weekend.
Note to the Tigers: Maybe don’t promote “Welcome back fans!” events that don’t appear to actually exist in practice. The carousel is still closed, as are most of the little attractions for kids, and there were apparently no promotions or giveaways on site. There were more promotions apparent for Friday night’s game, but we heard from several less than thrilled patrons with kids at the game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with little of note going on down on the field. Not ideal for a franchise trying to rebuild the trust of its customers.
“Welcome Back Fans Weekend” & not a single promo or giveaway. I hope they learned something with the attendance this weekend. Can’t just sit on their asses & wait to collect $$. Go Tigers! ⚾️— Andy ⚾️ (@ajdupontz28) June 13, 2021