A very well pitched game from both sides saw no runs driven in by either side. All three came via wild pitches, and the tally of one for the Sox, two wild pitches by the Tigers, tells the tale as the White Sox made it two in a row with a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
For five innings, Tigers’ right-hander Michael Lorenzen and White Sox’s ace Dylan Cease locked up in a really good pitchers’ duel. Lorenzen won the duel, but the White Sox won the game.
The Tigers went quietly in the first, and while Tim Anderson led off the bottom half with a single to right, Lorenzen would retire the next three without issue. Nick Maton singled with two outs in the top of the second, but he was caught trying to steal second by Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal, while the south siders went in order in the bottom half.
Zack Short drew a walk from Cease, who was typically his nasty self but didn’t have his best command at points in this one, to lead off the third. Jonathan Schoop struck out, and Jake Marisnick’s drive to center field was hauled in by Luis Robert. Zach McKinstry flew out to right to end the inning without Short advancing beyond first base.
Lorenzen wasn’t racking up the strikeouts, but he was overpowering early on. The Sox made three quick, weak outs to keep the right-handers pitch count in great shape through the bottom of the third.
Meanwhile, in the top of the fourth the Tigers made Cease work a bit as Akil Baddoo walked with one out and took second on a wild pitch. Torkelson grounded out, but Eric Haase walked on four straight pitches. Unfortunately, Nick Maton struck out swinging to strand them.
Andrew Benintendi led off the bottom of the fourth by fighting off Lorenzen’s best stuff and then slapping a changeup down for a single to right field. Lorenzen punched out Luisi Robert for his first strikeout of the game, and then got Jimenez swinging as well as Benintendi stole second. A pair of sliders in the dirt to Yoan Moncada got away from Haase, allowing Benintendi to take third and then score without a ball put in play. Lorenzen finished off Moncada with a good changeup down for his third strikeout of the frame, but the Sox led 1-0.
The fifth inning passed without incident, though the Tigers were able to push Cease well over 80 pitches, while Lorenzen’s pitch count remained in better shape.
In the sixth, Zach McKinstry led off with a triple to the wall in right center field, really turning on the jets to stretch it beyond a double. This paid off with a bit of symmetry as Cease wild pitched McKinstry home to tie the game. Cease struck out Báez, but his day was down as Pedro Grifol brought in Kenyan Middleton to retire Baddoo and Torkelson.
For his part, Lorenzen continued to dominate, striking out Tim Anderson in a quick 1-2-3 bottom half of the sixth. He was still only at 78 pitches after inducing a lot of weak contact on the fastball early and then finding his strikeout touch with the slider as he got deeper into his outing.
In the seventh, old friend Liam Hendriks took the mound. This generally is very bad for the Tigers or anyone else opposing them, but Hendriks just returned to the game this week after a successful battle with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. So, it was great to see him back but of course he quickly went through Haase, Maton, and Short for a snappy inning.
Lorenezen came out for the bottom of the seventh and needed just six pitches to get through the inning. Robert grounded out, Jimenez was frozen for strike three on a heater right at the bottom of the zone, and Moncada ripped a line drive on the first pitch he saw right into the glove of Short at second base. Lorenzen was still only at 85 pitches. He pitching the best baseball of his life right now under Chris Fetter.
Yet another hard thrower, the White Sox having nearly nothing but hard throwers in that pen, Gregory Santos took over for Chicago in the top of the eighth. He struck out Schoop, but Jake Marisnick drilled a line drive single to center field. McKinstry grounded out to second, moving Marisnick up a base with two outs, and that left it up to Báez, who was quickly dusted to end the scoring opportunity.
Jason Foley took over for Lorenzen in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Vaughn led off with a ground ball single that Torkelson just flat out whiffed on, something we’ve seen a few times recently. Foley bounced back by striking out Grandal with a nasty changeup as Vaughn’s pinch-runner, Romy Gonzalez, stole second base. A.J. Hinch had them walk Gavin Sheets to set up the double play and came out to the mound to talk strategy for a moment. Jake Burger entered the game to pinch hit for Elvis Andrus, and Foley blew him away with three fastballs. Tim Anderson stepped to the dish, and you knew he’d drill a line drive somewhere. He did so, but Torkelson jumped and snared it to end the inning.
Kendall Graveman took over in the ninth. It’s just wild how much talent this 24-35 team has on hand. The bullpen is packed with fearsome flamethrowers. Graveman easily cruised through the inning, and it was Alex Lange time in the bottom of the ninth, looking to send this to extras.
Lange gave up a single to Benintendi, but bounced right back. Robert and Jimenez went down whiffing at curveballs, and Moncada grounded out to first to send this to extras.
Reynaldo Lopez took over for Chicago with Haase the runner on second to start the tenth inning. A.J. Hinch, knowing a run probably wouldn’t get the job done, didn’t call for a sacrifice to move Haase over, hoping for a clean hit. Nick Maton drew a walk, but Short and Schoop quickly popped out, and Marisnick grounded to third.
Jose Cisnero took over for Detroit with Moncada at second. Gonzalez dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Moncada to third. Cisnero and Grandal locked into a lengthy battle as the Tigers pulled the infield in. The defensive alignment paid off, as Grandal chopped the 11th pitch of the AB straight to Short at second. Shorty held Moncada at third and flipped to first, and the White Sox had one shot left. Hinch ordered an intentional walk of the left-handed Gavin Sheets, and chose to face Jake Burger instead. Good idea, but Cisnero was a little wild and his 0-1 pitch tailed in on Burger clipping the knob of the bat, but also his meaty hand, sending him to first after the Sox challenged the initial call of a foul ball.
So, the bases were loaded, and rather than having Burger to deal with, leadoff man Tim Anderson strode to the dish. The odds that Anderson would get a hit in that situation seemed very high. However, it didn’t matter as the first pitch, with Haase set up down and away, tailed up and in instead. Haase flat out missed it and it drilled home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the face mask, bouncing away as Moncada raced home with the game winning run.
Hopefully Blaser is alright. He looked rather shaken up taking 96 mph straight to the face.
As for the Tigers, they got another brilliant start from Lorenzen and good work from the bullpen for the most part. The offense has just dried up, and with Riley Greene out indefinitely, the Tigers are hard pressed to slow a developing skid here. Other than McKinstry’s triple, the Tigers had just two singles and four walks. They need two solid left-handed hitters asap, and unless they’re willing to call up Colt Keith in the near future, Kerry Carpenter is all they’ve got. Carpenter should be back with the Tigers next week, but as the hits keep coming, RHP Alex Faedo was placed on the 15-day injured list with an issue with his middle finger on his throwing hand. Many problems, few solutions.