Detroit’s recent woes continued in the Windy City as the ailing Tigers dropped two of three in a rain-shortened series against the Chicago White Sox.
After the Tigers went down 2-0 quickly in the first three innings on Monday, Miguel Cabrera took the 2-2, 93 mile per hour offering from Hector Noesi and undressed it, sending it deep into the seats in left field to cut the lead in half.
In the bottom half of the inning with two outs, JD Martinez and Victor Martinez committed back-to-back errors to create a jam for Rick Porcello. However, Porcello was able to pitch out of trouble unscathed after he retired Tyler Flowers.
The next batter was red hot rookie Eugenio Suarez. Suarez took the first pitch curveball that stayed up from Noesi and sent it just over the wall in left center field to even the score 2-2.
Porcello was not able to blank the White Sox the next inning like he did after the first home run by Cabrera. Following a Conor Gillaspie RBI single, White Sox rookie phenom Jose Abreu unloaded on a 1-0 pitch from Porcello, and the home run put the White Sox up 5-2.
In the frame immediately after, Victor Martinez hit a rocket to right field that carried over the wall for his 15th home run on the season to trim the lead to 5-4.
Fast forward to the ninth and Detroit was down 6-4 with Austin Jackson and Alex Avila up looking to prolong the game. After Jackson led off with a double to left field, Avila was able to follow suit and hit a double to left field to make it a 6-5 game with a runner on second and no outs.
Suarez flew out deep to center and pinch runner Rajai Davis was able to outrun the strong arm of Adam Eaton in center and reached third with just one out.
Veteran Ian Kinsler came up to the plate and struck out on a questionable strike three call which he made evident with an argument with the umpire.
Down to the final out, pinch hitter Torii Hunter came into the game and grounded out to third, as the Tigers fell short in the series opener, 6-5.
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Game two was scheduled for June 10, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
When the series resumed, Justin Verlander took the mound to take on John Danks.
Verlander gave up a home run to Abreu to lead off the second inning and the second career home run for Abreu against Verlander.
The game did not see another run until Miguel Cabrera scored off the bat of Torii Hunter on a groundout to second base. It was not pretty, but it tied the score and earned Hunter high-fives from everyone when he got back to the dugout.
Then the sixth inning happened.
After back-to-back singles from Abreu and Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez reached on an infield single to create a real threat against Verlander.
Verlander then got the pitcher’s best friend, a groundball double play, and needed just one more out to get out of the inning with minimal damage.
Verlander was unable to get that out. He walked the next two hitters and gave up a single before he was finally pulled. Ian Krol came in to get the final out, but gave up a double, walk and a single before he got pulled, as he never recorded an out.
When Al Alburquerque came in to get the final out, the damage was done, and Detroit had given up seven runs in the inning.
The Tigers added one final meaningless run and lost with a final score of 8-2.
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Max Scherzer took on Chris Sale in the final game of the series, and it was the pitchers duel everyone hoped for.
Chris Sale came in undefeated (5-0) on the season, and was solid again on Thursday night. Sale started by mowing down every hitter in the Tigers’ order the first time through the lineup.
Rajai Davis got the first hit of the game in the fourth inning. With Kinsler up to the plate, Davis attempted to steal but was picked off on a nice move by Sale, for his first picked off runner of the 2014 campaign.
In the top of the fifth, Victor Martinez led off and took a 2-1 slider and drilled it into the bullpen in left field, putting the Tigers up 1-0. That was all the only damage that Sale would surrender on the evening.
That was more than enough for Scherzer.
Scherzer matched Sale pitch-for-pitch, before finally allowing his first hit to Alexei Ramirez in the fourth inning. Scherzer walked a runner in the fifth, and no one else reached until the eighth inning when Gordon Beckham hit a double.
At that point in the game, Detroit had already added two insurance runs on a single off the bat of Miguel Cabrera in the top of the inning.
Thursday was Scherzer’s night. He was mixing up all of his pitches, high and low, in and out, and the White Sox could not touch him. Even after coming off of a Cy Young winning season, this was the best start of his career.
After 179 attempts, Scherzer finally threw his first complete game, and shutout the White Sox in a 4-0 win.
Tony Garcia is the host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports.