Out of all the pitching matchups of this series, a Jake Peavy-Doug Fister matchup looked the most winnable for the White Sox. A number of developments prevented that vision from materializing.
No. 1: The White Sox went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
As frustrating as the pitching decisions and non-decisions were, this is where it starts. The Sox had a couple of good at-bats that didn't result in hits -- Kevin Youkilis smoking a ball at third baseman Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded, or Dayan Viciedo hitting a 415-foot flyout to center with a runner on second, for instance.
They should have done more, because Doug Fister didn't have much. His groin on his push leg had been bothering him, and it showed. He didn't have command of his cutter, and his curve ball wasn't around much, either.
Still, those good at-bats were outnumbered by a number of feeble at-bats and weak contact. One particular killer was Alexei Ramirez's pop-out to second with the go-ahead run on third in the seventh inning against Octavio Dotel, which reminds me ...
No. 2: The White Sox didn't bunt like mad at Miguel Cabrera.
The White Sox did score four runs even without a clutch hit, and it's because Detroit's defense is terrible. Cabrera missed five outs at third base alone, because his bum ankle kills his mobility.
Cabrera couldn't move laterally, couldn't jump for choppers, couldn't track foul pop-ups, and even his throws were iffy at best. But the Sox only bunted at him once, ONCE. Gordon Beckham popped one up but Cabrera couldn't get there in time to catch it, and he couldn't bend down to snag the hop, and then ended up slapping it with his glove toward catcher Alex Avila. That error loaded the bases and set up Dewayne Wise's RBI HBP.
Beckham's bunt was terrible, but because it was at Cabrera, it was a great bunt. More people should have been bunting at Cabrera. Non-bunters should have been bunting at Cabrera. Decent bunters like Ramirez should have been trying him with a runner on third. The Sox didn't test Cabrera, and they didn't even try to make him move into reaggravating his injury, which means he was plenty healthy to...
No. 3: Jake Peavy was not good.
... abuse Peavy. Cabrera hit a two-run homer on the first pitch in the first inning, delivered a leadoff double in the fifth (Peavy stranded him), and knocked Peavy out of the game with a single in the seventh.
But Peavy had problems elsewhere. Twice, he walked Andy Dirks in front of Cabrera, and Dirks scored both times. He also threw a number of plate-splitting first pitches to the first-pitch-swingingest team in the league, and that resulted in four runs (the Cabrera homer, RBI double by Dirks, solo homer by Jhonny Peralta).
No. 4: Ventura didn't even think about removing Jake Peavy before it was two batters too late.
And here's where the pitching management came in. With a rested, not-bunted-upon Cabrera due up second in the seventh inning, Ventura didn't have a right-hander even stirring in the bullpen. Peavy was going to face Cabrera regardless of what happened to Dirks, and what happened to Dirks is that Peavy walked him on four pitches. He then fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 to Cabrera before Cabrera lined a single to left.
No. 5: Ventura had to go to his wrong hand.
Ventura only had Matt Thornton ready, which means that 1) he couldn't have pulled Peavy earlier than Prince Fielder, and 2) he only had Thornton for Delmon Young behind Fielder.
No. 6: Thornton put himself at a disadvantage.
It worked out worse than imagined, because Thornton hit Fielder on the arm to load the bases. That brought Young to the plate, and Thornton threw him a fastball on the lower, inner quarter of the strike zone. Young drilled it to the left-center gap to unload the bases, and the game remained 7-4 to the very end.