To be honest, the Sox turning two out of every five games into a run-soaked, four-hour bullpen game was getting pretty tiresome, and also making it hard to remember how this was ever a team with even a puncher’s chance in the AL playoff race. Into a void the Sox had been filling with Anthony Ranaudo, stepped Miguel Gonzalez, back from a groin injury that had kept him out of action since Aug. 11 and had snapped a personal seven-game quality start streak. During that stretch, Gonzalez had posted a 2.70 ERA over 46.2 innings, and begun to look like someone who would force his way into the Sox 2017 plans.
Tuesday night, Gonzalez resumed his hot streak.
1. Against a generally fearsome Tigers lineup, Gonzalez spun a smooth 6.1 scoreless innings, showing as much rising life on his fastball and perfect location to make his mediocre stuff play up. After a perfect first entirely of groundball outs, Gonzalez whiffed Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez with fastballs out of the zone in the second, and when a hit batter and a single created a mini-jam in the third, Cameron Maybin bailed him out by taking off on a weak Jose Iglesias flare to right, and was easily doubled off by an Avisail Garcia throw to first. When back-to-back singles led off the fourth, Gonzalez mowed through J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, the latter of which on a gorgeous, diving slider. Despite being pulled at a meager 91 pitches, he still handed over just eight outs for a taxed Sox bullpen to track down.
2. The first two of which were not easy. Dan Jennings was brought in with one out after Gonzalez gave up two singles in the seventh and promptly walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to load the bases. Never one to respect to typical platoon splits in the first place, Jennings came right at rookie JaCoby Jones and blew him away with heat after falling behind 2-0. Jennings gave way to Nate Jones, who completely overwhelmed Maybin to end the threat.
3. Tigers lefty starter Matt Boyd‘s 2.64 second half ERA might have been the pitching story to watch coming into the game if not for Gonzalez’s return, and his effort Tuesday night might have been the story if not for how well Gonzalez’s return went. Boyd struck out six over seven solid innings, but took the loss because he hung a curve that Jose Abreu hit to The Loop in the second inning for his 23rd home run of the year, and allowed an alternate future White Sox tandem of Jason Coats (double to left), and Omar Narvaez (drilled RBI single to center) do a number on him in the fifth. Narvaez (.340/.462/.396) is not going to BABIP .400 forever, but he’s walked 12 times to just eight strikeouts, and that’s a trait that might help him cover up a total lack of power.
4. David Robertson was obligated to add some drama to the night in ninth, and came within inches of allowing a leadoff home run to J.D. Martinez to left. Martinez settled instead for barely outrunning a insane near-highlight reel play from Tim Anderson for an infield single, and a truly improbable walk to Erick Aybar brought the go-ahead run to the plate. Robertson found it in him to whiff Upton, force a Saltalamacchia pop-up, and vaporized pinch-hitter Tyler Collins to end the night.
5. Anderson struck out twice in a return to the leadoff spot as Adam Eaton got a rare night off, but he also singled, walked, stole a base, and flashed plus range to his right and plus arm strength at short. The Sox are OK at that position for a while, it seems.
Team Record: 66-72
Next game is Wednesday vs. Detroit at 1:10pm CT on WGN
Lead Image Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski // USA Today Sports Images