This was a hard fought game in which the two teams combined for 28 hits, and yet only eight runs were scored as both teams’ pitchers came up big, or lucky as the case may be, with runners in scoring position. Fortunately, the Tigers broke through in the late innings, and despite plenty of drama, the bullpen held on to take this one by a score of 5-3, winning the three-game set in the process.
With this game already rescheduled to a 1:10 p.m. EDT start time to avoid inclement weather, the rain also rescheduled, and the early innings took place in a pretty steady combination of drizzle and mist. In wet conditions, with the wind blowing in from right field for much of the game, we were due for a scrappy low scoring affair, rather than the slugfest you might expect against the AL Central leaders.
Tyler Alexander struck out Tim Anderson to start the game, then pitched around a one-out double from Luis Robert to throw a scoreless first, and the Tigers got to work. Akil Baddoo struck out, but Jonathan Schoop singled, and Robbie Grossman followed with a double to right field. Unfortunately the relay from Adam Engel, to Tim Anderson, to Yasmani Grandal, cut down Schoop trying to score, and the Tigers were turned away. And other than a single from Daz Cameron in the second, both teams went quietly in that frame, but the game started to open up in the third.
The White Sox got a one-out single from Cesar Hernandez, and then Anderson doubled to move Hernandez to third. Robert pulled a single through the left side of the infield, and both runners came around to score. Jose Abreu followed with a single, and Alexander walked Grandal to load the bases and induce some nail-biting. Fortunately, Eloy Jimenez pulled a hot grounder to third and Jeimer Candelario started the 5-4-3 double play.
Victor Reyes got the Tigers off to a good start in the bottom half of the third, leading off with a double off of Dallas Keuchel. Akil Baddoo flared a single into left just beyond the outstretched glove of Anderson, and Reyes roared around to score. Schoop made a bid on a fly ball to left-center field, but Robert hauled it in just in front of the fence. Baddoo advanced to second just ahead of the throw, and the Tigers were still in business. Unfortunately, Grossman was called out on a changeup high and away that just barely touched the strike zone. Jeimer Candelario singled on a line drive that Leury Garcia at third couldn’t quite handle, but Eric Haase grounded out to strand Baddoo at third.
Moncada doubled to lead off the fourth, but a nice relay from Reyes to Niko Goodrum to Candelario cut him down trying to stretch it into a triple. That was big, as Garcia followed with a single that would’ve likely scored Moncada from second. Alexander got Adam Engel off balance and he popped out to Schoop in shallow right field. Cesar Hernandez grounded out to third and the Tigers were out of the inning with no damage done.
Goodrum grounded out to start the bottom of the fourth, but Daz Cameron flared his second single of the day into right field. Isaac Paredes turned on a Keuchel cutter and nearly hit it out to left, but Jimenez was there at the warning track to haul it in, and Cameron was unable to advance. However, the Tigers were not done. Reyes lined a single into center, and then Baddoo bounced one through the right side as Cameron roared around to score and tie the game. That’s two singles off the lefty Keuchel, if you’re counting at home. Jonathan Schoop stepped to the dish with runners and first and third, but Keuchel was getting extra nibbly, and he walked the Tigers second baseman to load the bases, bringing Grossman to the dish. Keuchel quickly got ahead 0-2, and Grossman eventually grounded out to shortstop, leaving us tied up at two runs apiece.
Alexander had a little two out trouble in the fifth. Jose Abreu doubled, and Yasmani Grandal drew a four pitch walk, but Jimenez flew out to Reyes in center field to end the threat. The Tigers mounted their own two-out threat in the bottom half as Goodrum and Cameron lashed sharp singles to set up Paredes. A 3-2 pitch was smoked just foul down the third base line, but Paredes flew out weakly to center on the next pitch.
Overall this was another quality outing from Tyler Alexander, and he finished with five innings of work and two earned runs charged against him. A.J. Hinch turned to Ian Krol to start the sixth, and he dug himself a little hole right from the start. Yoan Moncada bounced softly back to Krol to start the inning, but he threw it away and Moncada scampered to second base. Leury Garcia dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to third with one out. Krol bounced back to punch out Adam Engel after a couple of loud foul balls to the pull side. However, Krol was still fighting his command, and he promptly walked Cesar Hernandez to put runners on first and third with two outs, and Tim Anderson at the dish. With his limited options available, Hinch turned to Bryan Garcia, and the fans held their breath.
Victor Reyes started off the bottom of the sixth with a grounder into the hole. Tim Anderson tried the ol’ jump and throw and airmailed the first baseman, sending Reyes down to second base. Baddoo showed bunt first pitch, pulling Garcia in from third, and Reyes saw there was no way Garcia could beat him to third base, stealing the bag easily while Baddoo took a ball outside. Smart baseball, folks.
Unfortunately, Baddoo rolled over a soft grounder up the middle, and Anderson fielded and came home with it. Reyes was called safe, but it was close and the White Sox had to challenge the call at the plate. Eventually the call was overturned, leaving Baddoo at first base with one out. Schoop grounded into a double play, and the Tigers were turned away in very frustrating fashion.
Garcia was back out for the seventh, and he got a pair of quick fly balls to Baddoo in left before walking...you guessed it, Yasmani Grandal. However, Garcia dusted Jose Abreu on strikes to end one of the best appearances we’ve seen from him all year.
The Tigers finally broke through in the bottom half of the inning, just as the sun finally peeked through the clouds. Grossman and Candelario started things off with sharp singles against Sox’ lefty Jace Fry. Haase grounded into a double play, moving Grossman to third, but the Tigers really needed a knock. Fortunately, Goodrum had another one in him, spraying a line drive into right field as Grossman jogged home with the go-ahead run. A 2-0 pitch to Daz Cameron went wild, allowing Goodrum to advance to second base. Cameron took a rip 3-0 but fouled it off, and did so again on the 3-1 offering, but Fry missed away to walk him and Cameron was on base for the fourth time in the game.
*ahem*— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 21, 2021
We now have the lead. pic.twitter.com/Z5svbYTZ3d
Tony La Russa turned to Aaron Bummer to face Isaac Paredes, and the Tigers had more baserunning goodness in store for the Sox. On a 2-2 pitch, Goodrum got a great jump and broke for third, Cameron followed, and the Tigers pulled off the double steal without a throw. Bummer went on to walk Paredes, and Victor Reyes spanked a single through the right side to score both Goodrum and Cameron. Paredes was thrown out trying to take third base, but no matter. That made it a four-hit game for Reyes, and a 5-2 lead for the Tigers.
Of course, the bullpen is still quite depleted, and going Garcia to Jason Foley with a lead is a bit unnerving. Foley struck out Moncada looking, showing off an improved slider recently, and then Garcia lined out to Schoop. Adam Engel drilled a double down the third base line, and Foley fell behind Cesar Hernandez 2-0. Chris Fetter came out to settle down Foley and buy time for Michael Fulmer to get loose in case he was needed to close out the inning. Foley came back with a pair of strikes to make it a full count, but ultimately walked Hernandez, and Hinch came out to call for Fulmer to get the final out of the inning. He did so, getting Luis Robert to ground one to Candelario at third for the force at second base, but not before Tim Anderson singled in a run to make it 5-3 Tigers.
White Sox closer Liam Hendricks needed some work, so the Tigers had a tough test in the bottom of the eighth, and they went in order.
Fulmer got the first two hitters quickly, but Eloy Jimenez singled to bring Moncada to the plate as the potential tying run. However, Fulmer got ahead with curveball for strike one, and a nasty changeup for a swinging strike. Moncada wouldn’t chase the next two pitches, however, and Fulmer yanked a slider down and in, and finally walked him on a changeup that was pulled inside. Haase came out from behind the plate to talk over Leury Garcia and cool Fulmer down. It didn’t help, as Fulmer yanked two sliders and then a fastball to fall behind 3-0. Garcia took a fastball for a strike, and then painted the inner edge with a 97 mph heater to make the count full, and then blew him away with another one right down the middle.
The Tigers had six hitters record multi-hit games in this one, and despite just six strikeouts on the day, the Tigers pitching staff kept the White Sox in check most of the game.
The victory assures their fourth straight series win against a division leading team. The Tigers are now just a half game behind Cleveland, who play the Kansas City Royals later tonight, for second place in the AL Central.
Tigers have optioned Drew Carlton to Toledo.— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) September 21, 2021
Joe Jimenez will be activated for tomorrow’s game.
Jackson Jobe says hello
On Monday, the Tigers had 2021 second round pick Izaac Pacheco at the park for a BP session and a meet and greet. On Tuesday, it was first rounder Jackson Jobe’s turn. He and Pacheco are already friends from their high school days on the showcase circuits, so presumably they got reacquainted. Jobe also threw his first pitch from the mound at Comerica Park. Apparently it was high and away, foretelling that it will still be several years until we see him on that mound again.