Preamble: The soba noodle has nothing to do with baseball. It is a Japanese noodle that has beneficial properties for those with high blood pressure. My girlfriend cooked a meal tonight using soba noodles. This became relevant in the 8th inning.
Tuesday night at Comerica started with a tarp and ended with a out drought for the Tigers pitching staff.
Once the rain passed, innings one and two were rather uneventful. Justin continued to inch toward “vintage JV”, despite allowing a base runner in each of the first two at-bats, placing his fastball and off-speed pitches well. The highlights for Tigers fans were a nice running catch by AA call-up Hernan Perez (who stepped into 2B for the injured Omar Infante) and a single from Victor Martinez to put his current hitting streak at 11 and calm the ti… no, the anxieties of remaining doubters. Alas, neither Matt Tuiasosopo nor Hernan were able to drive in Victor or Peralta (who also singled) for the lead. Tui watched a nicely placed fastball on the outside corner to strike out looking and Hernan, as is understandable in a season debut, looked a little impatient, swinging with extra gusto at the first pitch he faced and a ball up by his ear for strike three. Jose Quintana managed 3 strikeouts to Justin’s 2, through two innings played.
The only action in the 3rd was a deep triple by Alex Rios with two outs and nobody on base. JV, who threw a few in the dirt this inning, kept balls low and got out of the jam via the third groundout of the inning, this time off the bat of Dunn. The Tigers had a forgettable at bat and we cruised into the 4th inning of what was shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel. If I hadn’t read earlier that Quintana was coming into the game with 7 straight no decisions, I’d have been more surprised.
Verlander continued a slightly unsettling trend in the top of 4, again retiring the first two batters of the inning before giving up his 4th hit of the night. The condensation on his hat could still be blamed on the pesky rain however, as JV didn’t break a sweat, getting Gordon Beckham to end the at bat on a fly out to center. Justin was at 60 pitches through 4 innings. And I, like he, was not sweating it… yet.
Side Note: White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson was shockingly gracious and less of a “homerish” than I’ve ever heard him be, through the first 4 innings. He praised the Tigers lineup & rotation up and down and even said that Miguel Cabrera might be the best hitter he’s ever seen, and I quote. He went on to wax poetically about Miggy’s kind ways with fans, comparing him to no less than Cal Ripken Jr. My ears prepared for the Twilight Zone lead in, but it never came. Huh. Baseball.
In the bottom of 4, Quintana continued his groove, inducing a Cabrera fly out and Prince grounder for the first two outs. VMart then stepped to the plate and decided to make some sweet bat music of his own, roping his 2nd single of the game past third base. Consider Victor officially fixed, folks. Unfortunately the Tigers failed to capitalize as Peralta struck out swinging to end the inning and give Quintana his 5th K of the outing on his 53rd pitch.
Guess what happened in the top of the 5th. Alexi Ramirez joined the two-out hit train to make it 5 innings in a row of Justin retiring the first two batters only to allow a hit to the third. Alex Rios followed with his 2nd hit of the game on a tricky grounder through the 1B/2B hole that Hernan Perez appeared to have in his sights before it trickled under his glove. The play seemed to move in slow motion, but Alexi Ramirez did not, ending up at third to put runners on the corners with 2 down. A gimme steal left two Sox in scoring position before Verlander put out the fire with gas – which smelled less like petrol and more like high cheese – striking out Adam Dunn to end the inning. Through 5 at bats, the White Sox had 6 hits in 11 AB’s with 2 outs… and a goose egg on the scoreboard.
Detroit’s favorite Samoan started the 5th with his 5th home run of the year; a no-doubter to left that got out in a hurry and put the Tigers up 1-0. Next, Perez made a nice effort, but couldn’t quite leg out a grounder to short for the first out. Avila & Jackson both hit the ball hard, albeit directly at White Sox infielders, and Justin toed the rubber with a 1-0 lead in the 6th.
There, he continued his baffling beef with the 1-2-3 inning, throwing 3 balls in a row to Dayan Viciedo before hanging a 3-1 fastball that Viciedo sent over the left field fence. Tigers 1, White Sox 1, logic 0. Beckham ended the at-bat on a fly out and Verlander was up to 90 pitches through six.
In the bottom of the 6th, Jose Quintana tamed the meat of the home team’s lineup, getting Torii, Cabrera and Martinez to chop out, leaving Prince Fielder (who walked) on base.
Two solo shots were the only scores at this point and the Sox had exactly zero hits before the 2nd out of an inning, as Verlander took the mound again with the 9, 1 and 2 hitters lined up. After giving up his first pre-2-out hit of the night, JV had a little luck go his way courtesy of a pop-out double play on a failed hit & run to end the set.
With Quintana at just 78 efficient pitches entering the bottom of 7 and Verlander’s count at 100, Tigers fans prepared for another test of the bullpen and the bats in late innings. Jose sent his bats back to the plate still tied at 1 after his 3rd 1-2-3 inning of the night.
Alex Rios continued to laugh in the face of greatness with his 4th hit of the night to start the 8th, followed by a stolen base. With runners at 2nd and none out, the White Sox had scored 70% percent of the time on the year coming into the night. Adam Dunn upped that rate, feasting on a missed low fastball by Verlander, and crushing a 2-run homer to right to put Chicago up 3-1 with zero outs. Justin’s dominance of the White Sox was officially put on pause when Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie chipped in their own base hits, Gillaspie’s on a hit & run, putting runners at the corners with no outs.
Tigers fans living in Chicago were then put through their third round of merciless torture when the not-so-amazing (of late) Al Al gave Hawk Harrleson yet another reason to say, “you can put it on the booooooard, YES!” as Dayan Viciedo scorched his 2nd pitch deep to right for a three-run homer and a 6-1 Sox lead. The crowd was silent as my inner monologue went sailor. The game continued to fall apart like a second-hand Ikea dresser drawer as Alburquerque gave up 3 more hits before being pulled, the last to Rios for his 5th hit of the game and 2nd of THE INNING. Phil Coke & Austin Jackson then decided to help the Sox get it all out of their system in game 1, combining to allow a hard single up the middle and sail a throw over third base. White Sox 8, Tigers 1. Patience? He gone. The eighth inning of this game would have offered perfect placement for an Advil and/or Jack Daniel’s ad. That or a quote on perspective. (Yes, I know its only one game. It was still rancid.)
A Sox team that averaged 1.5 runs per game in 4 straight losses (6 runs total) coming into the series hung 7 on the Tigers in one inning and the crossings on Woodward swelled with the ranks of the wet & underwhelmed. Lest we forget to give credit where due, due to our embarrassment over a spanking by an inferior team, I’d now like to mention how well Jose Quintana pitched on the night. Coming into the 8th, he’d given up only 4 hits and 1 run. The once and future MVP gave the remaining home crowd something to cheer about, while slightly dampening Jose’s performance, with a 2-run jack to left in the bottom of 8. Gotta give it to Miggy – he truly seems to take no at bats off and continues to have little to no holes in his bat. Prince then grounded out to end the inning, 8-3 White Sox.
The comedy (“All we can do is laugh at this point, right?” said the angel on my shoulder as I set down the remote) continued in the top of the 9th. If you’re still reading this, I honestly hope you tuned out by now. I can’t even describe what was happened tonight after the 7th inning. I will go to bed tonight hoping there were drugs in my pasta and that the White Sox didn’t really get as many hits tonight as Detroit’s football team average in points (23!!) last season.
(If you made it this far, there’s your tie to the title. Jordan’s number was 23 – you get it, moving on.)
Early this afternoon, I mentioned how much, as a Tigers fan living in Chicago, I enjoyed a good pummeling of the team on this city’s south side. Baseball, like God, has a sense of humor.
Final Score: White Sox 11, Tigers 4
Chicago knocked the snot out of my Tigers, White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson used words like “contagion” to describe his team’s hitting performance and the Indians gained a game in the division. At least my blood pressure was kept in check. Thanks, Lisa
As far as baseball goes, tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
Thanks for reading.