Tigers 8, White Sox 6: Turning a mismatch into a game

Duane Burleson

Charlie Leesman can't hold his own in audition against Justin Verlander, but offense shows late life

Charlie Leesman is a starter for the Charlotte Knights, but he profiles as a reliever in the big leagues. Tonight showed why.

Filling in for Chris Sale, Leesman survived his first trip through the order well enough, but when the Tigers got a second look at him, Leesman didn't have a second look for them. He could only work one quadrant of the strike one -- low and inside to right-handed hitters -- and with only 1½ pitches, too.

The game got away from him on Ian Kinsler's at-bat. The Tigers BABIP'd their way into runners on the corners with Ian Kinsler at the plate. On the 10th pitch of the battle, after fighting off numerous low, inside attempts, Leesman left one over the middle of the plate at the knees. Kinsler roped it to left for a two-run double.

Leesman then tried starting Miguel Cabrera with a first-pitch fastball low and in. Cabrera deposited it into the right-field seats. In just two pitches, the Tigers turned a 1-1 game into a 5-1 game. The Tigers touched him for another run after Leesman failed to record the third out on three straight hitters, and Robin Ventura pulled the plug.

That left the bullpen to cover 5⅓ innings, which they did respectably enough. The two runs allowed on Scott Downs' watch (one inherited runner) ended making the difference, but we've seen worse from the relief corps.

We've also seen worse efforts from the White Sox offense, especially against Verlander.

He posted a Verlander line in some respects (seven innings, two runs, seven strikeouts), but the Sox did rack up eight hits and two walks off him, starting with a Jose Abreu solo homer to center in the first inning. In fact, Detroit pitching didn't retire the Sox in order once.

Unfortunately, they started seeing results after trailing 8-1.

Cuba Cubed tagged Verlander for his second run in the sixth. Jose Abreu led off with an infield single, moved to third on a Dayan Viciedo single, and scored on Alexei Ramirez's single up the middle.

With Verlander out of the game, the Sox loaded the bases against Al Alburquerque with one down in the eighth, but could only come away with an Alejandro De Aza sac fly to make it 8-3.

But they still had some fight left, even after Phil Coke started the ninth with two strikes. Marcus Semien doubled to left, then scored on Paul Konerko's second hit of the year (which snapped an 0-for-17 drought). Adam Dunn then hit a screaming line drive to right for a two-run homer, making it a two-run game.

Joba Chamberlain made it especially interesting when he entered the game and walked Viciedo on four pitches, but Ramirez's flare to left hung up long enough for J.D. Martinez to catch it, ending the game.

Bullet points:

*Viciedo had a great game at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a walk, and Abreu (2-for-3 with a homer) and Ramirez (2-for-5) weren't shabby themselves.

*Putnam struck out four over two innings, but he allowed his first run of his White Sox career when Downs couldn't retire Alex Avila with two outs in the fifth.

*Daniel Webb and Maikel Cleto bore down with runners on third and pitched scoreless innings.

*Tigers pitchers balked for the second straight game, when Hal Gibson called Verlander for bending his back knee separate of any other movement.

*The Sox committed two errors, although Tyler Flowers' throw to second short-hopped the base because of uncalled interference. Semien misread the short hop of a jammed liner for the other miscue, but it didn't cost the Sox a run.

Record: 10-11 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights

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