The Detroit Tigers took down the Chicago White Sox Friday night by a score of 5-3. The offense got going early but then cooled off in typical Tigers fashion. Fortunately, the young core of the team came up big after the White Sox came back to tie things up late.
This was Detroit’s fifth game of the year against White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, and the Motor City Kitties had his number early. Riley Greene did what every manager wants his leadoff hitter to do and drew an eight-pitch walk to start things off. Javier Báez, who was greeted by the typical chorus of boos he gets when in Chicago, doubled to put Greene on third, and Miguel Cabrera drove in the run on a ground out to the right side. Eric Haase extended the early lead with a two-out single that brought in Baez to make it 2-0 after the first frame.
Jonathan Schoop added an insurance run to the lead in the second with a leadoff home run. Akil Baddoo nearly went back-to-back, but the ball went foul by just a few feet and he struck out. After that, Detroit’s offense cooled off. Giolito found a bit of command and started fanning Tigers left and right. He racked up six Ks through the first three innings of the game and finished with nine through six innings.
First pitch and Schoop felt like flexing. pic.twitter.com/rY2PtYAJHz— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 24, 2022
Detroit’s starter, Eduardo Rodriguez, started off hot retiring seven of the first eight batters he saw. An error from Kreidler to Torkelson in the first proved to be harmless, but trouble eventually came in the third. Adam Engel and Elvis Andrus delivered Chicago its first two hits of the night, and Tiger killer Jose Abreu brought in Engel shortly after. Rodriguez walked Eloy Jimenez to load the bases following a mound visit from Chris Fetter, but he got out of the jam with a ground ball to third base. Phew.
The fourth and fifth innings were largely uneventful aside from an outstanding double play turned by Kreidler and Schoop to end the fifth (below). Báez almost went yard, but Andrew Vaughn timed things perfectly and robbed him of home run No. 15 on the year. That defensive gem turned out to be big when the White Sox came back to tie things up in the sixth.
Rodriguez took a ball off his leg on a line drive from Eloy Jimenez to start the sixth and almost came out of the game. The team trained examined him and deemed him healthy enough to keep playing, but he was clearly still shaken up as he gave up a two-run home run to A. J. Pollock in the very next at-bat. Yasmani Grandal doubled to put the go-ahead runner in scoring position for Chicago, but Rodriguez locked in after Fetter came out for another quick chat.
That marked the end of the night for both starters, leaving things up to the bullpens. Reynaldo Lopez relieved Giolito and quickly gave up a base hit to Baddoo. With a speedy runner on first, A. J. Hinch called for a steal and the gamble paid off big-time. Grandal sent the ball into shallow center field, allowing Baddoo to make it to third base with just one out. Riley Greene saw an RBI sitting 90 feet away and launched a deep fly ball to get the Tigers the lead back. Beautiful work, boys.
Riley Greene drives the ball more than deep enough for Akil Baddoo to tag and score on the sacrifice fly, giving the #Tigers a 4-3 lead! #DetroitRoots@Greene21Riley | @AkilBaddoo pic.twitter.com/GHdFgVeEuw— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) September 24, 2022
Now all Detroit had to do was hang on to the lead to start off the series with a win. Alex Lange sat down the ChiSox 1-2-3 in the seventh, but Jose Cisnero struggled in the eighth. After striking out two of the first three batters he saw, Cisnero lost control and loaded the bases on a walk and hit batter. Hinch saw enough and brought in Andrew Chafin to get out of the jam. He needed just four pitches to get the job done.
Romy Gonzalez wanted to be a hero and fanned on two straight sliders in the dirt, putting him in a big hole. Chafin went back to the slider once more, which Gonzalez finally laid off, and then he fooled him with a sinker up in the zone.
Detroit tacked on another run in the eighth thanks to a Willi Castro steal and Torkelson ground-rule double. This also feels like a good time to mention the improvements made by Tork since he returned to the majors. He’s seeing the ball much better and a good chunk of his outs have come on hard-hit balls, including one in the first inning. Since returning, Torkelson is batting .301 on balls in play and has lowered his strikeout rate considerably.
Tork finally rewarded for all these line drives. RBI double makes it 5-3 in the eighth.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) September 24, 2022
Gregory Soto closed things out without the usual drama that accompanies him when he takes the mound. He fanned Andrus with a nasty slider, got Moncada to ground out to short and won a seven-pitch at-bat against Abreu to finish it off.
Writer’s note: The Tigers have played very few games in 2022 that have left me feeling like I watched good baseball, but they did it tonight. Bravo, boys. You give me hope. Greene and Torkelson are going to be fun to watch for years to come, and that Ryan Kreidler might stick around longer than most expected.