Coming into today’s game, the White Sox were 5-11 on the season when playing the Tigers. It’s been bad. Almost comically bad, but not quite at that level. Just more tragic, which is the 2016 White Sox season in a nutshell.
1. The game started with bang. On the third pitch of the first at bat, Cameron Maybin hit a long fly ball off Chris Sale to left field. Human goldmine Melky Cabrera managed to somehow rob Maybin of his home run, further proving that robbing dingers is more art than honestly earned defensive skill. Miguel Cabrera would render this moot two batters later by stroking a thief-proof ball out to right. It looked like the ball would be jumping the rest of the day and both teams would be in for a slugfest. but much like April’s hot start showed: looks can be deceiving.
2. Miggy would go yard off Sale again in the top of the third, but that would be all Detroit could manage against Chicago’s ace. Sale strengthened as the game went on, pitching eight innings with eight strikeouts and no walks allowed. Unfortunately for Sale, he pitches in front of the punchless and anemic White Sox offense.
3. It’s hard to fault the Sox for struggling against a somehow resurgent Justin Verlander. Hall of Fame pitchers aren’t supposed to be easy matchups and it’s mildly funny watching his old catcher Alex Avila be responsible for half the runs scored off him with a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh that tied the game at 2-2. Avisail Garcia was able to follow up with a single and it looked like the Sox may have finally gotten to Verlander. But Robin Ventura called for a sacrifice despite Verlander clearly losing his handle, and Tyler Saladino promptly popped a bunt up to James McCann. Adam Eaton struck out on some dubious pitches to make two outs, all but assuring no rally was waiting. Tim Anderson managed to fist a single out to right, putting runners on first and third before Cabrera struck out, ending the last threat the Sox would manage.
4. The story gets predictable from here. Sale can only pitch so many innings without having his arm detach itself and fall to the ground in a spastic heap, so onto the bullpen. Nate Jones and David Robertson both looked sharp, striking out a combined four hitters over two innings while allowing no runners. But much like Sale, they can only carry so much weight. Eventually Robin had to play reliever roulette and summoned Chris Beck to the mound for the slaughter.
5. I don’t dislike Beck as a person. I don’t know him. He might be a good guy. He might be not so good. He might be that in between like the rest of us. But I do know he’s not a good enough pitcher to get away with facing the middle of the Tigers lineup unscathed. After allowing a leadoff single to Jose Iglesias, Beck managed to get Cabrera to ground into a double play. His next 10 pitches to the Martinezes (Victor and then J.D.) resulted in easy walks, bringing Justin Upton to the plate. Upton had been pitched inside a good deal all day and took an errant pitch off his foot earlier. He returned the Sox kindness by taking an inside pitch the other way and giving the Tigers a three-run lead that the Sox had no chance of overcoming.
A small rally in the bottom half of the inning against Francisco Rodriguez drew a run, but ended when Saladino took a borderline called strike three while representing the tying run.
Team Record: 65-72
Next game is Tuesday vs. Detroit at 7:10pm CT on CSN
Lead Image Credit: Matt Marton // USA Today Sports Images