Justin Verlander isn't JUSTIN VERLANDER right now, but given how often he's pushed the White Sox around, they weren't going to let him off the hook -- especially if Brad Ausmus was going to leave him out there.
The Sox gave Verlander the "Na Na Hey Hey' treatment, combining his lack of usual command with some well-placed hits to score seven runs in the sixth -- five of them with two outs, and three after Ausmus finally pulled the plug on Verlander's night.
With the game tied at 1, the Sox opened that sixth with consecutive singles by Jose Abreu, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez to load the bases. Verlander put himself on the verge to minimize the damage when he got Dayan Viciedo to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Instead of escaping the inning down 2-1, the Sox were just getting started.
Alejandro De Aza picked up Viciedo by fighting off an inside, full-count fastball and blooping it into right field to bring home Dunn. Adrian Nieto drew a walk on five pitches, and then Verlander walked Adam Eaton to reload the bases.
At that point, Verlander had thrown 121 pitches and walked four batters (including Nieto twice!). He probably should have been pulled after the Nieto walk, and he definitely didn't deserve to stay out there after the one to Eaton. But Ausmus left him in there, and when Verlander tried to get ahead of Gordon Beckham with a strike -- just his second first-pitch strike to eight batters that inning -- Beckham rifled it through the middle to bring home two.
That ended Verlander's night, but the Sox closed his book the hard way. Conor Gillaspie doubled off Ian Krol to the base of the wall in center to score two more, and Dunn's second single of the inning stretched the lead to 8-1. Ausmus needed a third pitcher to record the third out, which Al Alburquerque did when Ramirez grounded out to short.
Verlander's bid for a quality start turned into a disaster start instead (seven earned runs over 5 2/3 innings), and it blew a fuse somewhere in the Sox' broadcast truck.
WGN couldn't handle that inning. pic.twitter.com/usb9vZLXxx— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) June 12, 2014
That explosion made up for a missed opportunity in the third. The Sox had the bases loaded and one out, and the heart of the order coming to the plate with the game tied at 1, but Verlander sidestepped that charge by getting Gillaspie to pop out, then striking out Abreu on three pitches. That avenged Abreu's first-pitch homer in the second, and the Tigers tied it up in the bottom of the third when Miguel Cabrera's leadoff double came around to score on two productive outs.
But the Sox found a way to make John Danks' night considerably easier after all. In classic Danks fashion, he allowed single runs in the innings after a long layoff, but he avoided other Danks trademarks like home runs and more walks than usual.
He also showed some toughness on a couple of occasions, pitching around a blown pickoff in the third (Rajai Davis slid under Jose Abreu's high throw and was safe after a challenge), and escaping a second-and-third, one-out jam in the fifth by getting a popout and a lineout. Danks missed a high fastball target on Ian Kinsler's laser, but De Aza flagged it down in left with a nice running catch.
Danks' hot streak continues with a fine line (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP), and he threw a rather tidy 93 pitches, too. He labored less than his counterpart all night long, and Robin Ventura brought his night to a more easygoing end when he handed the game off to Javy Guerra in the eighth. Guerra pitched around three singles and a walk to throw two scoreless innings.
*Four AL Central teams now have 33 wins, including the Tigers.
*Abreu went 3-for-4 with his 19th homer and a walk (intentional).
*Ramirez and De Aza had some communication problems, with De Aza frisking Ramirez on shallow fly (which Ramirez dropped, but turned into a forceout at second), and almost running into him on a popup just past the infield dirt.
*Danks' ERA: 4.17. Verlander's ERA: 4.61.