No team in the American League has scored fewer runs than the Chicago White Sox. That did not stop them from putting up 22 runs in three games, capping it off with a 6-3 victory to take the series behind Josh Phegley’s grand slam.
Anibal Sanchez struggled early in the first inning, giving up a single and a double to open the game, with Alexei Ramirez’s two-bagger driving in the first run. Sanchez, however, escaped further damage by getting a lineout, intentionally walking Adam Dunn, and then finishing the inning with a strikeout and a flyout.
The Tigers had a tough task in responding against Sox ace Chris Sale, but they were up for it. After two straight singles and a double play opened the bottom of the second, Matt Tuiasosopo – starting with the lefty on the mound – homered for the third time in three games to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. The Tigers would put plenty of pressure on Sale – a one-out triple in the third and a two on, no out spot in the fourth – but they failed to score both times, missed opportunities that would come back to haunt them. They were denied in that fourth inning as Dayan Viciedo gunned down Victor Martinez at the plate on a Hernan Perez single to end the inning. In the fifth, Miguel Cabrera hit his 30th home run of the season – opposite field – to extend the Tigers’ lead to 3-1. Controversy quickly followed, however, as Sale went up and in with a fastball to Prince Fielder on the first pitch after the homer – a pitch that, under the circumstances, undoubtedly rubbed the Tigers the wrong way. Sale eventually struck Fielder out.
Sanchez had been navigating through trouble all afternoon, without a single 1-2-3 inning all day. He ran into serious trouble during the sixth when Austin Jackson misplayed a line drive for an error to open the inning, followed by a walk. Sanchez struck out Viciedo but allowed a single to Gordon Beckham to load the bases for Josh Phegley, who blasted a hanging changeup on 3-2 into the bullpen for a go-ahead grand slam.
Sanchez’s day ended and in came Luke Putkonen. Putkonen retired Alejandro De Aza, but his first pitch to Alexei Ramirez went behind his back. Ramirez pointed threateningly toward Putkonen and the benches cleared. Putkonen was ejected – not immediately, and Ramirez was allowed to stay in the game. Jim Leyland promptly got himself ejected, and he had no shortage of things to be angry about – the fact that no warning had been issued after Fielder was brushed back, the fact that Putkonen was ejected without any warnings issued, the fact that Ramirez wasn’t ejected. Ramirez ended up singling, cramping up on his way to first, and leaving the game.
Phil Coke was responsible for the sixth Sox run, giving up a homer to De Aza – a lefty – in the 8th. He then walked the bases loaded and was yanked in favor of Evan Reed, who got the Tigers out of the jam without further damage. Coke’s struggles do not appear to be diminishing and the Tigers have to be wondering if another solution is available.
The Tigers, meanwhile, couldn’t get to Sale, who left in the seventh, and a trio of Sox relievers shut them down to earn a surprisingly well-deserved series victory.