The Tigers took on the White Sox on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park, and it was a memorable day for Detroit rookie starter Sawyer Gipson-Long who made his major league debut. There wasn’t a lot of offense, but the Tigers were able to string together a few hits in the third inning for three runs which ultimately proved to be the difference in a 3-2 victory to claim the series.
Sawyer Gipson-Long was acquired from the Twins last season in the Michael Fulmer trade. Prior to the callup, he spent 2023 between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. He had a 3.74 ERA at Erie across 14 appearances, 13 being starts, and a 5.45 ERA across eight appearances at Toledo, six being starts. Reliever Brendan White was optioned to Toledo to open a spot for Gipson-Long.
Interestingly, his strikeout rate went up at Triple-A this summer, but he was more susceptible to the long ball. The development of a high 80’s cutter this summer, along with an improved changeup, have been game changers for him, especially against left-handed hitters.
SGL started off his day dispatching Tim Anderson to collect the first strikeout of his career, and cruised to a quick one-two-three inning striking out two hitters. In the second inning, he struck out another two, and then threw another one-two-three inning in the third.
In the bottom half of the third, three straight hits put the Tigers on the board first. Zach McKinstry and Matt Vierling singled to start the inning, and then Spencer Torkelson brought them both home with a double to left to put the Tigers on top 2-0. With one out and runners on the corners, Andre Lipcius came through with a single to right field to make it 3-0.
Spencer Torkelson with RBIs number 77 & 78 on the year— Motor City Metrics (@mcmbaseballpod) September 10, 2023
Gipson-Long didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning when Andrew Benintendi shot a line drive to right field that Kerry Carpenter badly misplayed into a triple, and was then brought home on a two-out double from Eloy Jimenez.
In the sixth, he ran into more trouble by allowing a lead-off double to Lenyn Sosa. Facing Anderson for the third time, he got him to roll over on a ground ball to third base, but Lipcius had a tough throw and pulled Torkelson off the bag, allowing Anderson to reach on an error. That ended Gipson-Long’s debut, an admirable effort of five innings and five strikeouts with no walks.
Will Vest came on in relief and gave up a one-out infield single to Luis Robert to score Sosa, pulling the White Sox to within one run. Vest struggled with his command, but was able to get out of the sixth without allowing anymore damage.
From there, Vest gave way to Tyler Holton in the seventh, Holton gave way to Miguel Diaz in the eighth, and Diaz gave way to Alex Lange in the ninth. All three pitchers threw clean innings to down the White Sox and give the Tigers another series victory.
The Tigers now have an off-day on Monday before welcoming in the Cincinnati Reds for three on Tuesday night. They remain two games back of second place Cleveland in the AL Central.