It took eight games before we witnessed the first real difficult-to-watch game of Robin Ventura's tenure. Not one part of the White Sox worked as planned.
The offense: Rick Porcello will take his line every time (7 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K), but he didn't really win by his gameplan. He left a lot of sinkers up, but the White Sox couldn't put them in play. The bad pitches were the ones that found their way into fair territory. Dayan Viciedo took him deep to left center in the eighth to spoil the shutout bid, but baserunners were few and far between otherwise.
The pitching: Chris Sale looked amped up during a 1-2-3, 10-pitch first, but eventually he got bogged down by lots of foul balls and a pretty small strike zone by Lance Barksdale. He ended up needing 102 pitches to get through five innings, and left the game after starting the sixth by surrendering a double to Prince Fielder.
Fielder scored on Nate Jones' watch, because Jones has a hard time recording the first out. He gave up a single and two walks to load the bases ... and then he retired the next six. Go figure.
The defense: Two of the Tigers' five runs scored with help from their enemies. With one out in the fifth, Alejandro De Aza grossly misplayed a high fly ball to right center in the fifth inning. It should have been a can of corn, but De Aza thought it was deeper to begin with, and the wind pushed it even farther away. It dropped in front of him for a double, which put runners on second and third with one out.
Then Detroit's version of the Wild Pitch Offense kicked in. A.J. Pierzynski couldn't get a glove on a very-inside fastball, letting Jhonny Peralta score to make it a 2-0 game.
That was a tough play for Pierzynski. But an inning later, the Tigers scored a run on another wild pitch, and that was just an outside curveball. Pierzynski didn't give it his best effort, and it scooted under his mitt to allow the third Detroit run to score. And all this a day after Tyler Flowers showed the impact of strong pitch-blocking.
The manager: I can see why Ventura wanted to get a full inning out of Will Ohman, because after Jones and Zach Stewart pitched, Ohman was the least-utilized pitcher remaining. Plus, the inning started with lefty Brennan Boesch at the plate.
But wanting doesn't make it a good idea, because he didn't have much of a plan after Boesch. The Tigers had righties Gerald Laird, Austin Jackson, switch-hitting Ramon Santiago and Miguel Cabrera afterwards, which is quite the gauntlet for a LOOGY. Sure enough, Ohman gave up singles to Laird and Jackson before leaving the game. Addison Reed didn't help much, allowing singles to Santiago and Prince Fielder, stretching the Detroit lead to four.
Plus, it seems like a good time to end the "batting Brent Morel second" experiment. With two on and two out in the eighth, Morel struck out on a biting 3-2 slider. He went 0-for-4 on the day, with his average dropping to .115.
There were no surefire improvements on the bench, because Gordon Beckham is a mess, and Brent Lillibridge and Alex Rios have their own problems against righties. But if Morel is hitting lower in the order, the game won't find him as often.
And yet, after all that, the Sox still brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth against Jose Valverde. Dunn started with a dobule, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on A.J. Pierzynski's single. Two batters later, Alexei Ramirez singled, giving the Sox two chances at tying it up. Alas, Kosuke Fukudome grounded out, and Viciedo struck out to end the game, leaving the Sox to settle for a series victory instead of a sweep.
- Dunn doubled three times in the first home series at the season, giving him more doubles at U.S. Cellular Field in 2012 than he had there all last season.
- The White Sox went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
- Cabrera finished the series 0-for-12, but he did make a couple great plays at third, which means he and Morel were effectively the same person.