The holes in the back of the Detroit Tigers rotation and bullpen remain a glaring weakness as they wait for some of their better arms to get healthy. Joey Wentz struggled badly again on Friday night and the bullpen was rocked as the White Sox pounded out 17 hits and crushed the Tigers by a score of 12-3.
This game did not start out very auspiciously for the home team, and things never improved. A.J. Hinch was off attending his son’s graduation, and the team played like the boss was out of town.
The White Sox were on just about everything Joey Wentz threw and racked up a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with two-out hits from Andrew Vaughn and Yasmani Grandal.
The Tigers immediately loaded the bases in the bottom half as Zach McKinstry led off with a walk, Riley Greene doubled to left, and Javier Báez reached on a ball to Moncada at third that he couldn’t get an out on anywhere.
Lance Lynn settled down quickly, striking out Spencer Torkelson. Nick Maton pulled a soft liner to Andrew Vaughn at first for the second out, and that left it up to Akil Baddoo. The left fielder battled Lynn through an eight pitch AB, and then slapped a single to third base that Moncada bobbled. McKinstry scored and everyone was safe. Miguel Cabrera got a pitch clock violation to start the AB 0-1, was eventually called out on strikes, and once again many baserunners were stranded.
3-1 White Sox through one long inning.
Wentz got the first two outs in the second without issue, striking out Hanser Alberto swinging for the second. However a walk to Tim Anderson was followed by a sinking line drive to center field off Benintendi’s bat. Riley Greene made a diving attempt and came up empty as the ball rolled past and Benintendi cruised to third with an RBI triple. A routine fly ball from Luis Robert ended the inning.
4-1 White Sox.
Vierling struck out to open the bottom of the second, but Jake Rogers and Zach McKinstry (again) drew walks. A ground ball from Greene forced McKinstry at second as Rogers moved to third with two outs, and Báez struck out to end the inning.
Wentz allowed a leadoff single to Moncada to open the third, but finally settled down a bit. He was really mixing all four pitches to try and keep the White Sox off the fastball, and he punched out Vaughn and Grandal before Jake Burger flew out to right for the third out. Three routine outs from Tork, Maton, and Baddoo followed, and we were on to the fourth.
Wentz’s brief reprieve from danger didn’t last long. Clint Frazier led off the inning with a triple, and the White Sox were in business again. Alberto grounded a 1-2 curveball to shortstop to drive in Frazier, and it was 5-1. Wentz collected the last two outs without issue, but now over 80 pitches and leaking runs left and right, his outing was over.
The Tigers really do not have much in the way of options at Triple-A and are waiting for someone, Spencer Turnbull or Matt Manning in particular, to get healthy. Still the leash has to be pretty short for Wentz at this point. Mason Englert took over in the fifth, and you have to wonder if they might decide to stretch him out for a few starts with Wentz scuffling so badly.
However that plan took a hit as Englert immediately walked Robert and surrendered the White Sox third triple on a deep fly to center field from Moncada and then a Vaughn home run to left center field. And yeah, that was a wrap on this one, folks.
8-1 White Sox.
McKinstry continued to just live on base, opening the bottom of the fifth with a single. Greene immediately grounded into a double play, and Báez grounded out to third to end the inning.
Englert got the first out of the sixth, but surrendered singles to Tim Anderson and Benintendi. This brought a mound visit from Chris Fetter and Englert responded by popping up Robert down the first base line. Anderson tried to tag and score, because hey why not, but Torkelson made the tricky catch falling onto the tarp, turned and gunned him down at the plate.
Torkelson was then hit by a pitch to open the bottom half, and Nick Maton reached on an Alberto error at second. Lynn walked Baddoo, the fourth free pass handed out already to the Tigers, and that loaded the bases with no outs for Cabrera. If they were going to get back in this one, the time was now.
Lynn helped the Tigers out by walking Cabrera, which...ok thanks. That made it 8-2 White Sox. The wildness continued as Lynn fell behind Vierling 2-0, and had to chuck a cutter right down the middle. He got away with it as Vierling bounced into a double play with Maton scoring on the play. Cabrera remained at second and it was 8-3 White Sox. Rogers struck out to end the threat, and the last chance for the Tigers in this one had passed.
Tyler Alexander took over for mop up duty in the seventh. Both teams went quietly, with Kenyan Middleton taking over from Lynn. Akil Baddoo ended the top of the inning with a nice catch. There weren’t many highlights, so we’ll run with it.
In the top of the eighth, the Sox got another run when Jake Burger led off with a double and Alberto ripped a single to left to score him. The contact was loud. They would go on to load the bases, and a two-run single from Moncada made it 11-3.
The only minor note of interest was Zack Short pitching the top of the ninth. He gave up three singles but only allowed a run, and thus did as well as anyone else tonight. Shorty features a fairly hittable mid-40’s eephus and a subpar fastball. Zack McKinstry also drew his third walk of the game with two outs in the ninth before Riley Greene flew out to end it.
RHP Michael Lorenzen gets the start for the Tigers at 1:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, while the White Sox look bound for a bullpen game.
Notes from the injured list
The Tigers are some distance away from getting a bunch of help, but there was some good news on the injury front on Friday.
Kerry Carpenter began a rehab assignment with the Toledo Mud Hens on Friday night, and probably won’t need more than a few games to get back in the swing of things. He’s been on the injured list since a shoulder sprain suffered crashing into the right field wall back on April 29. The Tigers could definitely use his bat back in the lineup, warts and all.
On the pitching side, Matt Manning threw a bullpen earlier in the week and should be close to going on a rehab assignment as well. He’ll throw another bullpen on Saturday. Manning suffered a fractured toe on a comebacker off his foot back on April 11.
Beau Brieske, dealing with an ulnar nerve entrapment, threw live BP earlier this week too and appears to be nearing an assignment as well. Spencer Turnbull had an MRI this week that showed improvement in his neck strain. His rehab is ongoing.
Finally, Tarik Skubal threw live BP on Friday, and reports were very promising. Skubal reportedly hit 98 mph and was in reasonably good command of his fastball and slider. There’s no word on when a rehab assignment might began, but he only threw 20 pitches in this one. Expect at least one more session to ramp him up to 45 pitches before he heads to Toledo. The rough timetable for a return still looks like late June if everything continues to progress well.