The Tigers jumped out to an early lead, but could never break through again. Meanwhile, the White Sox chipped away until a dropped ball in the bottom of the eighth inning allowed them to seize control and win 4-2 to earn a split in this four-game set.
Looking to take the series from the White Sox on Sunday, the Tigers got off to a good start. Sox starter Michael Kopech walked Riley Greene to begin the game. Two pitches later Javier Báez crushed his ninth home run of the season to make it 2-0 Tigers.
Drew Hutchison opened his start for the Tigers with a quick first inning. Andrew Vaughn reached first on a throwing error from Harold Castro with one out, but was cut down by Jonathan Schoop trying to advance to second. Hutchison popped Luis Robert up with Spencer Torkelson hauling it in for the final out of the inning. The right-hander looked in control and went on to put up a very nice start against a fully operational White Sox lineup.
Torkelson had the only Tigers hit in the second inning, ripping a one out double to left. Unfortunately Eric Haase lined out to Robert in center and Victor Reyes struck out to squander the run scoring chance. At this point, the typically hard-throwing Kopech was sitting around 92 mph, which was interesting as he averages over 95 mph and is known to run it up there near 100 mph at max effort. He’s pitching through a knee issue because the rotation doesn’t have much in the way of depth, and it showed in his velocity, though not so much in his overall performance.
Hutchison got into a little trouble with two outs in the second when he walked Eloy Jimenez. Leury Garcia dumped a little blooper into left center, and there were two on for Josh Harrison. The White Sox infielder eventually flew out to Greene in center to end the threat as Hutchison continues to be surprisingly effective. The question for A.J. Hinch as always was how far to push the Tigers’ luck.
Riley Greene led off the third with a solid single to right, but Báez and Harold Castro lifted the ball to Robert in center for outs. With Miguel Cabrera at the plate and a 1-1 count, Greene tried to steal second but was cut down, with a nice swipe tag from Harrison getting him on the leg inches before his hand touched second base as catcher Gavin McGuire’s throw tailed toward first base.
McGuire opened the bottom half with a sharp ground ball that Báez snared going toward his right. As his momentum carried him toward left field, the shortstop whirled and fired all in one motion, throwing a strike to Torkelson for the out. Moncada flew out to center, and Andrew Vaughn bounced out to first. Hutchison needed just five pitches in the inning.
The Tigers got a Jonathan Schoop walk in the fourth and no more. Hutchison struck out Robert to open the bottom half. That was his first punchout on the day as his 86 mph changeup showed great depth and drew a swinging strike three. Hutchison broke out the same-side changeup against Jose Abreu as well, and then dusted him with what looked like a 93 mph cut fastball that the veteran swung through. Lefty Gavin Sheets followed with a solid single to left center field, but Eloy Jimenez grounded to Báez for a fielders choice to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, Victor Reyes singled to right with one out, but Riley Greene bounced into a double play snuff any threat before it materialized.
The White Sox finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Leury Garcia led off with a single off of a very stingy Hutchison, then advanced to second on a Harrison ground out. Hutch punched out McGuire, but Yoan Moncada singled to center, scoring Garcia to make it 2-1 Tigers.
Harold Castro got a little something going in the top of the sixth by drawing a one-out walk from reliever Jimmy Lambert. Miguel Cabrera flew out to Robert for the second out of the inning, but AJ Hinch put Castro in motion with Jonathan Schoop in a 1-1 count, and the second baseman delivered a solid single to left that moved Castro to third. Lambert then plunked Robbie Grossman on the foot to load the bases with Torkelson at the dish. Unfortunately, Torkelson uncharacteristically chased a slider well outside the zone and struck out to squander the chance. They’d never get another one.
Hinch sent Hutchison back out in the sixth, and it didn’t work out that well. Robert lined out, and Abreu grounded out, but Hutchison’s lack of a real good chase pitch finally bit him here. He got ahead of Gavin Sheets 0-2, but couldn’t put him away. Sheets fouled off a couple of pitches, then took a changeup and a slider down without flinching. Eventually, Hutchison fired a 3-2 fastball and Sheets crushed it for a solo shot to tie the game 2-2. Eloy Jimenez followed with a bid to deep left, but Grossman circled along the wall and it fell to him on the warning track for the final out of the inning.
Hutchison’s final line was all you could ask for; 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 SO.
Tony La Russa went to right-hander Reynaldo Lopez in the top of the seventh. He struck out Haase and Riley Greene, while Victor Reyes grounded out. Alex Lange took the bottom half for the Tigers and needed 13 pitches to produce a 1-2-3 of his own. Kendall Graveman returned serve in the top of the eighth, and Hinch was left with a bit of a dilemma.
With the score tied, one could argue he should’ve kept going with Lange in the eighth, saving Soto for the ninth, or to get four outs should Lange get into trouble, saving Fulmer in case this went to extras. Orthodoxy would say to play for the win, but there was more than one way to approach that. Hinch chose to turn to Fulmer instead.
Fulmer had no issues, but with two outs, Robert lifted a shallow pop up to left and Robbie Grossman lost it in the sun. It clanged off his glove and the Sox’s center fielder stood on second base by the time it was over. Hinch then uncharacteristically issued an intentional walk to Jose Abreu to get the force in order, and called on Gregory Soto to take over. You’d like your closer to punch a guy out in a tight spot like this, but he couldn’t get it done.
A.J. Pollock grounded a Soto sinker the opposite way just past the glove of a diving Jonathan Schoop, and Robert cruised around to score. Abreu moved first to third, and the Sox continued to take an opposite field approach against Soto, as Eloy Jimenez followed by knifing a single to right to plate Abreu as well. 4-2 Sox. Adam Engel came on to run for Jimenez, and Leury Garcia stepped to the plate looking to blow this one open. Soto got him to bounce out to second, but now the Tigers needed a miraculous comeback against closer Liam Hendriks to win.
The Tigers went 1-2-3 against Hendriks, as one usually does, and they had to be content with a split of the four-game set.
The blame here has to go to the dropped ball by Grossman, but Hinch could be accused of some over-managing in the inning. Fulmer looked in control, while Soto isn’t racking up strikeouts with his usual authority.
The pace of this road trip will remain intense, as the Tigers fly out to Kansas City this evening for a 2:10 p.m. start of a doubleheader on Monday. Game 1 is the makeup game for an April 17 rainout. The Tigers still have eight games left in seven days as the road trip will conclude in Cleveland next weekend heading into All-Star week.
Gregory Soto was named to the 2022 AL All-Star team after today’s game. The left-hander has 17 saves, with 2 blown, and holds a 2.67 ERA/3.46 FIP through 30 1⁄3 innings of work with 31 strikeouts to 15 walks. He’ll join Miguel Cabrera as the Tigers two representatives, Cabrera having been added as a Commissioner’s selection.
The Tigers claimed RHP Cody Sedlock from the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. The 27-year-old right-hander was a pretty decent starting prospect 4-5 years ago, but has battled a lot of injuries since then. He’s a command and control right-hander who sits 90-91 mph and leans heavily on a good changeup as his other main offering. We’ll see if the Tigers have any ideas for him, or whether, as it appears, this is just adding a little starting depth at the Triple-A level.
The Erie SeaWolves lost in Harrisburg on Sunday, but recent Futures Game selection, catcher Dillon Dingler, has been heating up lately. This was a nice swing from Sunday afternoon.