Tarik Skubal’s peripherals say he’s pitched quite a bit better than his 3.77 ERA since his return to action in June. That was tested again early in this one as Tim Anderson led off the game with a single through the infield, and then a grounder in the hole at shortstop from Andrew Benintendi wasn’t converted into an out by Zack Short, and right out of the gate there was trouble.
Skubal powered up to dust Luis Robert with a high fastball, and then Eloy Jimenez drilled a line drive to Kerry Carpenter in right. Yoan Moncada put up a fight, falling behind but laying off a slider and a changeup down, but Skubal froze him with heat for strike three to turn the White Sox away. There was also an amusing clip shown later of Skubal and Anderson joking with each other as they left the field after the top of the first, with Anderson giving Skubal a playful elbow shot. They’ve already had a lot of battles in their relatively short careers.
Old friend Jose Ureña was just called up by the White Sox for this one and was his usual wild self. Akil Baddoo struck out, but Zach McKinstry lined a single to left and Spencer Torkelson followed suit with a grounder through the left side of the infield. Kerry Carpenter grounded into a force of Tork at second, but then stole second base. Matt Vierling worked a walk to load the bases, but Tyler Nevin grounded into another force at second base to end the inning in frustrating fashion.
Skubal took the mound and struck out Andrew Vaughn and Trayce Thompson in a quick inning of work. The Tigers got a one out single from Jake Rogers and then Zack Short drew a walk. Akil Baddoo grounded out, but in a 3-0 count McKinstry was swinging and slapped a sharp grounder just off Ureña’s glove for an infield single to score Rogers. 1-0 Tigers.
Unfortunately, after swinging 3-0, McKinstry stayed too aggressive. Torkelson was in a 2-1 count, and for some unholy reason McKinstry decided to run on catcher Korey Lee and got himself thrown out like a jackass, ending the rally on the bases with Torkelson at the plate and Carpenter on deck.
Skubal allowed a walk and no more in the third, and the Tigers went in order in the bottom half. Skubal quickly retired the Sox 1-2-3 in the fourth as well.
Ureña hit Tyler Nevin to start the bottom half off of the fourth. A ground ball from Parker Meadows was misplayed by White Sox second baseman Lenyn Sosa and both runners were safe. However, once again the Tigers would fail to mount a rally under favorable circumstances.
Jake Rogers drilled a deep fly ball to center field that Robert hauled it right before the warning track, with Nevin tagging and taking third base. For some reason, Short bunted the first pitch he saw back to Ureña, who had no trouble holding Nevin at third and getting Short at first base as Meadows moved to second Terrible exchange, imo. That left it up to Akil Baddoo who took a changeup for strike three.
Skubal allowed a one out single to Sosa in the fifth. Korey Lee saw two changeups to start his AB and swung over both of them to fall behind 0-2. Another one down finished the job, and Tim Anderson met a similar fate, swinging over a changeup for strike three.
Lefty Tanner Banks took over from Ureña in the bottom of the fifth, and AJ Hinch pulled McKinstry for Andy Ibáñez, who grounded out to lead off the inning. Torkelson flew out and Carpenter grounded out as well, and it was still 1-0 heading into the sixth.
A few longer innings and nine total strikeouts had the Tigers’ starter over 90 pitches at this point, so Hinch turned to Alex Faedo for an inning of work.
Skubal’s final line was immaculate, with 5.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, BB, 9 K. That’ll do, Tarik. Skubal now has a 2.20 FIP on the year though his ERA stands at 3.47.
Faedo got a ground ball from Andrew Benintendi to the first out, then whiffed Robert with a 95 mph heater at the top of the zone. Good to see that velocity in relief. However, Faedo missed glove side down with several pitches and walked Eloy Jimenez with two outs to bring up Moncada.
A fastball at the bottom of the zone earned strike one. A slider down drew a whiff. Faedo missed with a slider and a changeup to make it 2-2, but fired another 95 mph heater on the inner edge for strike three.
Ureña had been effective if not impressive, and the White Sox turned it over to Luis Patiño in the bottom half of the sixth. This was strongly starting to feel like one of those games where the Tigers squander a ton of chances and lose an easily winnable game, so it was good to see Vierling greet Patiño with a solid single to left. Nevin drew a walk, and so did Jake Rogers after Parker Meadows struck out on a changeup. Patiño was throwing a heavy dose of changeups to the Tigers in general. He couldn’t quite find the mark after getting ahead of Zack Short 0-2, and the utilityman lay off a few tempting pitches to draw a walk as well, and force in a run in the process. 2-0 Tigers.
Unfortunately, a flurry of changeups to Akil Baddoo sped him up, and he took 97 mph at the bottom of the zone for strike three. That left it up to Ibáñez, but he chased a 1-1 slider away and then popped out to the catcher to strand all three runners.
Like this team in almost every way...that was extremely frustrating.
Faedo came back for the seventh and again set down the White Sox in order. With their momentum from escaping a huge jam with only a run allowed squashed, the heart of the Tigers’ order came to the dish in the bottom half to try and finally break this one open. They would face Michael Kopech, now working out of the bullpen again.
Torkelson fouled off everything Kopech had to offer right over the middle of the plate in a nine-pitch AB, and eventually tapped a soft grounder back to him for the first out. Carpenter struck out swinging. Vierling worked into a full count and got a slider on the inner edge. He turned and drove it into the visiting bullpen for his 8th home run of the season. 3-0 Tigers.
Tyler Nevin drew a two-out walk, but Parker Meadows struggles continued as he popped out to end the inning.
Jason Foley took over for the eighth inning. He was rather wild this time out, missing badly arm side several times. Pedro Grifol pinch-hit Yasmani Grandal for Lee, and he immediately doubled to right field. A Tim Anderson ground out moved Grandal to third with one out. Foley struck out Benintendi, but Robert singled to left to get the White Sox on the board. 3-1 Tigers.
Pitching coach Chris Fetter came out for a chat at that point with Eloy Jimenez coming to the plate as the potential tying run. Foley got a ground ball from Jimenez, but Short couldn’t handle it and both runners were safe. With Moncada coming to the plate, Hinch turned things over to Alex Lange for a four-out save attempt. Lange dropped in a first pitch curveball for strike one, missed away with a changeup, but another curveball down got a ground out to Ibáñez to end the inning.
Edgar Navarro carved up the bottom of the Tigers’ order easily in the bottom of the eighth, and so it was last call for the White Sox.
Lange got Andrew Vaughn to ground out to third for the first out. He fell behind 2-0 to Gavin Sheets, who pinch-hit for Thompson, but he spotted a curve and then a fastball for called strikes before Sheets whiffed on a curveball. That left it up to Sosa, who fouled off a couple of tough two-strike pitches but finally whiffed on a curveball to end it.
The Tigers will look to take the series at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long will make his major league debut against RHP Jesse Scholtens.
The Tigers, meanwhile, continue to own the AL Central, though it’s a bit like bragging about claiming Baltic Ave in Monopoly...
TIGERS WIN— Tigerdog; (@Tigerdog_1) September 10, 2023
Win the season series vs Chicago
Win the season series vs every AL Central team