After winning in extras on Friday, the Tigers were on the losing end Saturday after a pretty well played game from both sides, falling 4-3 in 11 innings.
Eduardo Rodriguez got the ball in this one, while Johnny Cueto was scratched due to illness in favor of right-hander Davis Martin. The Tigers lefty was really good until the last three batters he faced, somewhat undoing what should have been a stellar outing.
Rodriguez had really good command for most of the evening. He allowed a one-out double to Yoan Moncada in the first, and a leadoff single to Andrew Vaughn in the second, but from that point on retired 16 in a row, issuing no walks and striking out seven through six scoreless innings.
However, Martin held his own. The Tigers didn’t get a man past first base until Akil Baddoo tripled down the right field line with two outs in the third. Riley Greene’s ground ball to first stranded Baddoo, and it would be a while until anyone crossed the plate.
Rodriguez worked his fastball with precision to both sides of the plate, mixing some cutters in on right-hander’s hands, and getting whiffs and weak contact with changeups down and away.
Finally, after struggling with Martin all game, Tucker Barnhart broke the spell with a double to center field to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Akil Baddoo lined out to Elvis Andrus at short, and White Sox second baseman Romy Gonzalez made a slick barehanded pick and throw to get Riley Greene on a chopper after a review overturned the initial safe call. It was last night’s hero, Victor Reyes who came through with a single to right field to plate Barnhart and give the Tigers the first lead of the night. Harold Castro then reached on an error by Gonzalez at second, but Spencer Torkelson popped out on the first pitch to end the inning.
The wheels finally came off Rodriguez’s outing in the top of the sixth. Jose Abreu smashed a grounder to shortstop and Ryan Kreidler picked it on a short hop, dropped it momentarily, but stayed with it to get the out. Rodriguez got ahead of Eloy Jimenez 0-2, but then hit him in the backside with a cutter, and suddenly the command went haywire. Andrew Vaughn and Yasmani Grandal walked back-to-back and AJ Hinch went to Jason Foley with the bases loaded. Foley got a ground ball from AJ Pollock, but it was well placed into center field for a two-run single. Foley struck out Luis Robert, and Gonzalez lined out to Baddoo in left to end the inning, but now the Tigers faced a one run deficit.
The Sox went with Joe Kelly, who struggled badly on Friday night, and this time he had no issue putting the Tigers down in order in the bottom of the seventh. Will Vest retired the Sox 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth with some help from Kreidler, who picked another hot shot from Abreu moving behind second base and got him on the 270 degree spin and throw.
Kendall Graveman came on in the bottom half and got Barnhart on a ground out. However he then walked Baddoo on four pitches. That’s a huge mistake, as Baddoo’s problem is getting on base. Once he’s there, he’s a nightmare for an opponent. Graveman threw over three times in a row trying to hold him at first, and then Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz and the trainer came out to check on Graveman. Satisfied that he was alright, they retreated to the bench.
Baddoo took the opportunity to steal second easily with Riley Greene at the dish. The Sox were preoccupied holding him at second, with Elvis Andrus creeping in behind him, and that opened a hole on the left side of the infield. Down 0-2, Greene grounded one perfectly into the vacant terrain and while Andrus made a nice play running out onto the grass to snare it, that fact didn’t stop Baddoo from roaring around from third to score without a pause. Probably he should have held at third, but it worked out as Andrus had to get up and quickly fire home and the throw went wide. Greene took advantage and slid into second just ahead of Yasmani Grandal’s throw, and the Tigers had tied it up. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do any more as Reyes flew out to left and Harold Castro struck out.
Jose Cisnero looked good in the top of the ninth, running his fastball up to 98 mph. He struck out Eloy and Adam Engel, while Kreidler made a really nice diving play to snare a Grandal line drive headed into right center field to end the half inning. The Tigers were now in the walkoff zone, but would have to get it done against Reynaldo Lopez.
They did not get it done against Reynaldo Lopez. Torkelson flew out. Carpenter watched three high 90’s heaters in a row to strike out, and Schoop popped out to send us to extras for the second straight night.
Alex Lange took over in the 10th and did a really nice job with some excellent defensive work helping him out. Pollock’s tapper was picked by Barnhart, who tried to backpick Leury Garcia, who started the inning at second. Garcia took off for third and Schoop caught the throw and fired to Harold at third to cut him down. Pollock made it to second on the play. Luis Robert grounded out to third, and Harold held Pollock at second before firing to first. Lange carved up Gavin Sheets with some truly nasty changeups and was FIRED UP about it as he came off the field.
Schoop was replaced by Willi Castro as a pinch runner starting the inning on second. However, they were now facing one of the best relievers in the game in closer Liam Hendriks. Kreidler moved Castro to third with a sac bunt. However, Barnhart’s fly ball to center was too shallow to tag and score on, and Baddoo couldn’t catch up to Hendriks’ gas, taking a called strike three to send it to the 11th.
Gregory Soto came on for the Tigers, with catcher Seby Zavala on second for the White Sox. Andrus dropped down a bunt single to move Zavala to third, and Moncada slapped a grounder into left to score him.
Soto struck out Abreu for the first out of the inning, but the White Sox pulled off a double steal and a fly ball from Eloy Jimenez brought Andrus home. Engel flew out to end the inning but the Tigers now needed two to tie against lefty Aaron Bummer, with Baddoo starting the inning at second base.
Riley Greene grounded out, moving Baddoo to third with one out, but Victor Reyes struck out swinging at a Bummer slider. Hinch put in Javier Báez to pinch hit, and the shortstop got it done, lining a fastball away down the first base line. Unfortunately, it bounced into the wall where it juts out, and with an ailing knee Báez had to put on the brakes. Kody Clemens came on to pinch run, and that left it up to Spencer Torkelson. The first baseman hit a rocket on a line to Robert in center field, and that was that.
The rubber match will start at 12:05 p.m. EDT on Sunday with Drew Hutchison going for the Tigers. The White Sox haven’t announced a starter, but if Cueto is feeling better, that would be my guess.
Erie SeaWolves update
After losing on Friday night to Richmond to fall a game behind the Bowie Baysox, the SeaWolves got an absolutely dominant outing from Wilmer Flores to win 5-1 and re-tie the division race with one game left in the season. Flores one-hit Richmond over six innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. A fifth inning Andrew Navigato home run was the difference in this one.