It started well. And, well, it ended.
This was the first inning. Tigers 3 up, 3 down. White Sox De Aza leads off with a bloop single to right but Scherzer cleaned up quickly, ultimately averaging 3.75 pitches per out for the first (15 total). Love, love after one.
In the top of 2, Hector Santiago, who averages 4 walks per 9, gave up an infield single to Fielder and a walk to Victor Martinez to start the inning. After Tuiasosopo grounded into a DP that moved Prince up to third, Omar drove a single to left on a hanging change, plating Fielder for the 1-0 lead. It was Infante’s first hit since his return, after going 0-4 in his comeback game last night. Brayan Pena, who we’ll be seeing more of than usual due to Avila’s concussion, decided that Santiago’s change was “what’s for dinner” (beef… meat… old commercial; I tried) and pulled his slow pitch to left, continuing the 2-out damage. Hector’s 2nd walk of the first two innings, to Iglesias nonetheless, loaded the bases with two outs and Austin Jackson coming to the plate. Jackson came in hitting .353 over the last 7 days (in 34 ABs). Unfortunately it was his trend of a .184 BA against the Sox that he’d hold to, striking out to end the threat.
After 1 ½, the Tigers were up 1-0.
If you hadn’t heard, Max Scherzer is the official sponsor of the corner fastball. Who said watching someone paint can’t be fun? Max mixed and placed with ease, getting Konerko to fly out and Avi (Can I still call him that? Yeah, just for a few more games. What does the survey say though?) to pop out before striking out Jeff Keppinger in 3 pitches for his 2nd K. Run support is a relative luxury when you have this kind of arsenal. After 2, De Aza’s Twins-Hit remained the White Sox only.
Torii Hunter has only 4 walks in the past 46 games (thanks, Dan) and is successfully challenging the virtue of patience. He started the 3rd with a line drive single to left on Santiago’s second pitch. We hesitate to believe this can last but in the meantime, we bask. A baseball demi-god grounded out in the first and walked in the third. His performance lately considered, Hector Santiago might have understandably deemed this a win, despite the free pass to Cabrera being his third in 3 innings. A fielding brain fart by the White Sox on a grounder by Prince kept the outs to one, leaving Torii on 3rd and Prince on 1st with VMart coming up. Santiago had 56 pitches with only one out in the 3rd and the Tigers appeared to be seeing his stuff more than well, putting solid wood on most anything over the plate. For the 2nd inning in a row, the Tigers failed to connect on a finishing move. Martinez would ultimately strike out, battling 9 pitches, and Hunter was caught in a run down between 3rd and home to end the inning.
59 pitches through 3 looked poor for Santiago. Only 1 run off 4 hits and 3 walks over 3 innings looked just above the poverty line for the Tigers. The White Sox may not have batted in the 3rd. Someone review the tape. That’s how fast Max Scherzer mowed them down. Thirty-eight pitches after 3. One hit, no runs for Max.
In the top half of the 4th, Omar extended the feast on Santiago’s off-speed stuff, taking another change to left for his 2nd hit of the game after Tui K’d for the first out. Avisail Garcia narrowly avoided a collision with Jordan Danks on the next out, perhaps briefly forgetting he was not roaming the prairies of Comerica while chasing down a Pena fly that Danks would end up catching. An Iglesias pop up ended the Tigers at bat and Hector Santiago had given up only one run despite needing 76 pitches to get through four innings. SMH.
With Max dealing, White Sox announcer Ken Harrleson was calling for a bunt parade in hopes of getting something, anything going for his homer… I mean home team (Google “Hawk Harrelson & Homer” if you’re wondering). The method turned out to be odd, but bunts were not in the mix. Max stayed nasty through the first few pitches to Gordon Beckham before issuing only his third hit batsman and third wild pitch back to back, putting Beckham on first & moving him up to second. A sudden bout of control issues lead Max to walk Ramirez, putting two one with no outs and Dunn coming up. Scherzer went to the heater well a few times on Dunn, hitting 97 before striking him out on a nice, late-moving change-up. He’d follow that with a K of Konerko, giving the away fans hope for a clean inning. What happened next was upsetting and probably struck the match on countless irrational “we lost the trade” fires throughout Detroit. Scherzer left one over the plate to Avisail Garcia who drove it out of Hunter’s reach inside the left field line for a triple. The triple turned into four bases when Omar Infante was charged with a throwing error trying to get him at third. Cabrera should have fielded the ball but, well… After the dust cleared, the Sox were up 3-1. Max got Jeff Keppinger to foul out and end the madness but not before making Avi a hero and giving Hawk Harrelson a big… smile. Rough inning. And here ends the detailed inning by inning replay. Time for shorter paragraphs.
Though they declined to put the nail in Hector Santiago’s coffin a few times through four, the Tigers lineup did succeed in making him throw a lot of pitches. He’d thrown 99 pitches through 5. But it meant nothing so far. Remember what I said earlier about Max not needing much run support? Well its still somewhat true, but go ahead and forget it anyway, k? Scherzer got through the 5th unscathed and the White Sox came through with a friendly run-scoring error of their own in the top of the 6th. Yet again the Tigers failed to fully capitalize though, with Austin Jackson leaving runners on 1st & 2nd to end the inning.
After 5 ½, the White Sox were up 3-2. And Jackson, last week’s co-AL player of the week, was 0-4 on the night. In other news, the White Sox announcers are officially my least favorite in baseball. For a good minute or two, Hawk Harrelson & Steve Stone opined on the justice that should be served when someone doesn’t slide into 2nd on a potential double play, saying in several ways (including bluntly) that Alexei Ramirez should have thrown the ball directly in between Infante’s eyes to teach him a lesson. These jabronis. Take it easy, gents.
Scherzer got through the bottom of the 6th clean as well, stranding two White Sox. With the 2-3-4 hitters coming up to start the 7th, confidence was still available for Tigers fans. With the 5-6-7 hitters coming up to start the 8th, confidence was still feasible for optimists? The Tigers plate appearances in the 7th aren’t worth mentioning.
Drew Smyly entered for the Tigers in the bottom of seven and Max was officially denied his 18th win, going 6 innings and giving up 3 runs on 4 hits with 3 walks and 6 K’s. One of his runs was unearned. And it was kind of a key run. (But they gave one back, so I suppose it was a wash.)
Side note: Okay, Harrelson said Scherzer may be one of the best right handers he’s seen in the last 25 years. I’m on to you and your attempts to gain my favor, Hawk. It’s not working, but keep trying.
In the 7th, Jordan Danks flew out, Josh Phegley singled and Jose Iglesias and Omar Infante made the double play look simple and sexy, like a little black dress. Nothing flashy, just a classic, clean, quick turn. Yum. (Okay, I’m done bringing creepy back now.)
Nate Jones came in for the Sox in the 8th and touched 99 on the gun before walking the leadoff man, Victor Martinez (1-2 for the game; .364 for August). Andy Dirks continued to contribute very little. Omar Infante continued to sneak in hits, though they called his 4th of the night an error on Alexei Ramirez (his 2nd). So yeah, it was his 3rd hit but it wasn’t an easy play, IMO. With pinch runner Don Kelly at 3rd and one down, Brayan “NERTS” Pena made a point to be more helpful than Andy Dirks and brought home the tying run with a seeing-eye-single to right. Iglesias would GIDP to end the inning but the game was now tied with the top of the order due up for the good guys.
Jose Veras trotted out for the bottom of the 8th and did his job, despite allowing a single to Alexei Ramirez and going a throwing almost as many balls (6) as strikes (7).
Top of 9, make it 0-5 with 2 strikeouts for AJax. Holy inconsistency, Batman. Where there’s Jones, there’s fire apparently. Mixing gas with a solid slider, Nate Jones sat the top of the Tigers order in, well, order. Woof.
With Bruce Rondon in, Avisail Garcia began the bottom of the 9th sending a hot shot right at Infante that took a bounce he couldn’t handle. Infante took the error, Avi took first. Rondon was topping Nate Jones on the radar but the White Sox nearly rained on his triple digit parade, putting two runners on base (Garcia’s wheels in scoring position) and just about ending it on a scorcher to right off the bat of, gulp, Conor Gillespie that JUST went foul. Rondon would end up striking out Gillespie and getting Alejandro De Aza to ground out to first (a nice play by Prince), ending the heart palpitations, I mean threat.
Extra baseball, free!
Prince Fielder followed a nice scoop with a nice single to start the 10th and Don Kelly reminded his teammates that some pro’s can bunt, moving Prince up with a nice little intentional dribbler. Proving that the pagan baseball gods who probably still care only a little less about sports than the Christian one share my disdain for the bunt, Andy Dirks & Omar Infante failed to reward Kelly’s efforts and Detroit left another runner in scoring position.
I’m too tired to muster a worthy pun or description of how filthy Jeremy Bonderman’s slider was in the 10th but let’s go with a Saturday night at Sheen’s level of nasty, at least against Ramirez. Bondo got Beckham and Ramirez out (the latter on sliders White Castle might want to sponsor) before giving up a single to Adam Dunn. Paul Konerko came to the plate and Jeremy’s higher heat spoke. (Remember, I’m tired, be kind.) The Tigers headed to the 11th still tied.
Not mentioned in the three-way trade with Boston & Chicago was the inclusion of expert bunting coach Larry Mazzilli, 2nd cousin of Lee Mazzilli and keeper of the top secret squared bat recipe. (That didn’t actually happen but Jose Iglesias got the 2nd successful sac bunt of the night to move Brayan Pena up for the Tigers in the 11th so I had some fun, okay?). After another botch by Alexei at short, Miguel Cabrera nearly put the Tigers ahead and aggravated his injury trying to beat a throw to first (and sliding to boot). How do you say “so not worth it” in every language? Tigers fans everywhere sighed every so slightly when Miggy showed up at 3rd for the bottom of 11. But if he truly hurt himself on that play, “distraught” will not quite sufficiently describe our collective mood.
Is anyone still reading? Bless your heart. If this recap feels as long as an orthodox Greek wedding, I apologize. It was a long arse game and I hope you at least chuckled or nodded a few times along the way.
Bonderman came back out for the bottom of 11 and made a silly decision and worse throw to 2nd on a Jeff Keppinger bunt after he walked Avi to start the inning. This game. He’d get Danks on a grounder for the first out, leaving Garcia at 3rd and Keppinger at 2nd. Jeremy would then walk Tyler Flowers (pinch hitting) to load the bases, leading Jim Leyland to bring in, wait for it, Phil Coke to face Alejandro De Aza. “At least De Aza’s a lefty”, you say? Well that would be too logical for this night on the south side.
Inside fastball. Bloop single to right. Game, set, match.
I’ve got nothing else to say, almost. (I thank the eternally positive and optimistic twitter Tigers crew in advance for reminding me and us of how good the Tigers are and that everything will be okay. Because my rational mind knows that’s true but it’s currently being backhanded by my tired, cranky, annoyed that I have to hear any kind of crap from White Sox fans irrational, loopy medulla oblongata. Break out the “breathe y’all” stats, boys & girls. Daddy needs some good news.)
G’night and thanks for reading / bearing with me and a tough extra innings loss in which the Tigers left 12 on base and were 2-15 with RISP. Cripes.