Alejandro De Aza has had an emotionally complicated season. For all the ire he’s drawn for being a baserunning disaster, he’s matched it with an offensively strong last three months of the season, and now, his second walk-off hit in a week. A fisted single off Phil Coke with the bases loaded in the 12th dropped in front of Torii Hunter in right, ending a blunder-ridden four hours-plus marathon with playoff-bound Tigers with a 4-3 victory, with Detroit failing to score more runs than Alexei Ramirez committed errors.
After starting with a leadoff walk to Avisail Garcia–his second moment of hope and promise on the night, the triumphant White Sox rally spun along fittingly. Jeff Keppinger laid down a bad bunt–his second of the night, the first one popped up–but a high throw from reliever Jeremy Bonderman took Jose Iglesias off the bag just enough for Garcia to slide in. After a walk to Tyler Flowers, the Tigers lost when their LOOGY failed to fulfill his role against De Aza.
The Tigers had mounted a thrilling comeback on the shaky hands of Alexei Ramirez. In the sixth, Brayan Pena knocked an inning-ending double play ball at Gordon Beckham, who flipped it to Ramirez, who whipped it into the camera well next to the Tigers bullpen, fulfilling some peculiar motivation to destroy footage of the game while Victor Martinez scored from second to bring the score to 3-2. Ramirez spoke out again on the evil of twin killings in the eighth, letting another double play-caliber grounder skip off his glove heel and into center. Don Kelly managed to be less productive on the basepaths than Martinez, but scored from third eventually on a Pena single.
Ramirez booted still one more ball–setting a new career-high for errors in a season in the top of the 11th to bring Miguel Cabrera up with runners on first and third with two outs, but was redeemed when a screaming liner off Cabrera’s bat took the glove off Addison Reed‘s hand and dribbled across the infield. Ramirez raced in, which he can still do dependably, barehanded the pearl and fired in time to catch the badly injured Cabrera huffing down the line and executing a poorly-conceived slide.
Ramirez wound up blundering away a lead built on Avisail Garcia’s first moment of hope and promise with the White Sox in the fourth. After whiffing on two mid-90’s Max Scherzer fastballs down the pipe, Garcia got the timing just enough on another one at 97 and sliced it into the right field corner to score Beckham and Ramirez. When a customary throw to third disagreed with Miguel Cabrera‘s injured hip, Garcia’s triple turned into ‘triple, scored on error’ and opened up a 3-1 lead for the Sox to bleed away. The 30-pitch inning played a small part in Scherzer only getting through six innings.
The Tigers proved themselves the best team in the world in the sport of bailing out Hector Santiago earlier in the night. His dreadful night of command that began with him giving up a bullet lineout to Austin Jackson, but after allowing a two-out RBI single to Omar Infante, Santiago escaped a bases loaded jam in the second inning when Jackson was caught looking at a fastball on the inside corner. The next inning, a situation with runners on the corners and one out, set up by one of Santiago’s four walks over five-plus innings, was botched when Martinez whiffed on the 10th pitch of the at-bat and Beckham sniffed out a double steal.
With all the troubles White Sox have had executing rundowns, Beckham simplified the process by dashing across the infield and tagging Torii Hunter himself to end the third. Santiago would get out of his last full inning of work with dueling groundouts from Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the former of which nearly knocked Alexei over backwards. Given the night Ramirez had, this is not an idle comment.
A relevant note on Santiago’s performance:
Hector Santiago had a root canal yesterday. Area is infected. Had a temp of 102.7 early this morning. #Whitesox
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) August 14, 2013
Team Record: 46-72
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