Sometime in the swift process of Max Scherzer steamrolling through the first 12 hitters in the White Sox lineup in 45 pitches of leisurely work, offensive expectations for the night were scaled down to “any runs at all would be nice.”
Since Scherzer wasted two sliders in the dirt before challenging Dayan Viciedo with a full count, center-cut fastball in the sixth inning, the plea to avoid a shutout was answered by a rising line-drive that sailed over the Bullpen Bar for the Sox’ first tally of the night. Another singular, meaty heater to Conor Gillaspie in the eighth would provide for another flyball shooting into the night sky to right field, and another solo home run. Dingers without accompaniment has often been cited as a bugaboo by the White Sox faithful, but they were undoubtedly the high points of the evening.
Because besides the improbable mistake to a hitter who seemed ill-equipped to even take advantage earlier in the at-bat and a late-inning posterity run, the Sox position players laid down the gauntlet for starter Chris Sale to be perfect against the No. 2 offense in the American League. Working with a new catcher and missing the snappiest of his sliders, Sale was not up to a task that was nearly impossible by typical methods, resulting in a fatalistic 7-3 defeat to the Tigers that spiraled into a parody of season-long defensive incompetence.
Sale, someone capable of striking out 11 Tigers’ hitters over 8 innings without even looking like he has everything working, shrunk from the prospect of facing Miguel Cabrera in RBI situations twice in the evening and failed to find a workaround. Fielder bounced an RBI single through the right side of the infield on the first pitch after Sale pitched around Cabrera in the third, and when Cabrera was more blatantly put on base in the fifth inning before he could knock Hernan Perez in from third, Sale couldn’t settle down to throw Fielder a single strike. Playing cautious with the bases juiced after back-to-back walks, Sale stayed away with off-speed stuff until Victor Martinez served his third slider of the at-bat up the middle for a backbreaking two-run single.
“Game Over” was a sentiment that swept over White Sox twitter like wildfire after that blow, and while the Sox didn’t mount another rally besides Alex Rios‘ one-man dance around the bases (double, wild pitch, balk) with two outs in the ninth, they sure did manage to ugly things up beyond all recognition.
The back-breaking fifth inning for Detroit was kickstarted by a routine grounder going through the wickets of Alexei Ramirez. After Sale left after eight frames, only after pitching eight innings and throwing 119 pitches in a game the Sox weren’t in, manager-favorite Ramon Troncoso stepped in for something approaching his 37th consecutive day of work. Troncoso threw in his own mishandling of a bunt in between the three hits that greeted his entry into the ballgame, but probably didn’t get a completely fair shake either. He managed to pick off Cortes trying to steal second, but when Ramirez tried to catch Brayan Pena drifting toward home from third, he threw a bullet that skirted wide of a diving and confused Gillaspie, scoring Pena and pushing Cortes to third, from where he would later score.
Most important for symbolic purposes, it gave the Sox more errors than runs.
Team Record: 39-57
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