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White Sox 2, Tigers 0: Miguel Gonzalez shows no rust

Starter sidelined with groin injury comes back to throw 6⅓ innings in shutout

Miguel Gonzalez hadn’t pitched for the White Sox since leaving the second inning of the game on Aug. 11 with a strained groin.

You wouldn’t have known it by the way he pitched.

It was business as usual for Gonzalez, who shut down the Tigers for six innings before running into his customary seventh-inning trouble by allowing two of the first three to reach. Fortunately, the Sox held a 2-0 lead, which encouraged Robin Ventura to use the best of his bullpen, and Nate Jones spearheaded the effort to preserve a rare Gonzalez win and the shutout.

Jones continued his red-hot September facing his biggest test yet. He inherited the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh after Dan Jennings did half his job (a walk, but followed by a clutch strikeout of JaCoby Jones). The pressure did not faze him, as he disabled Cameron Maybin on four pitches. All were low and away, the first three froze Maybin, and the last compelled a weak half-swing.

After escaping Jennings’ jam in the seventh, Jones pitched a 1-2-3 eighth on six pitches, getting a lineout to right and a groundout to first before striking out Victor Martinez on a slider in the dirt.

David Robertson picked up his 34th save, but after much more nail biting. He first gave up a rocket to J.D. Martinez that flirted with the foul pole. After initially being ruled a homer, the umpires convened and called it a foul ball, which proved correct when Brad Ausmus challenged the reversal.

Martinez still reached on an infield single despite  Tim Anderson’s best efforts, and after a strikeout of Justin Upton, Robertson brought the go-ahead run to the plate after walking Erick Aybar on four pitches. Out came Ventura to check on Robertson, but Robertson stayed in, only to fall behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia 2-0.

Fortunately, Saltalamacchia hacked at a high cutter and popped out to first for the second out, and Tyler Collins then struck out swinging on three pitches to help Gonzalez notch just his third victory of the year.

Gonzalez deserved it, as he limited the Tigers to just six singles and an HBP over 6⅓ innings. He only encountered a couple of jams, and the Tigers helped him out of the first one. Gonzalez faced runners on first and second with one out, but Maybin strayed way too far on a soft liner to right, and Garcia fired a strike to first for the inexplicable 9-3 double play.

In the fourth, Gonzalez relied on his own skills to keep the Detroit off the board. The first two Tigers reached on singles, the second of which Melky Cabrera lost in the lights. Gonzalez came back to strike out J.D. Martinez and Upton, and Casey McGehee flied out harmlessly to right for the third out.

The White Sox had a habit of short-circuiting their own threats, grounding into three double plays on the evening. However, they found a couple ways to get runs on the board.

In the second inning, Jose Abreu extended his at-bat long enough to extract a hanging curve from Matt Boyd, and Abreu crushed it 439 feet out to left for his 23rd homer. Three innings later, White Sox rookies teamed up for the other run. Jason Coats, playing on the day he was recalled from Charlotte, lined a one-out double to left, then came home on Omar Narvaez’s single to center.

The Sox couldn’t cash in on their best opportunity of the night, which started in the eighth with an Anderson walk and stolen base. Tyler Saladino couldn’t get him over to third with a bunt, and ended up bouncing back to Buck Farmer. Melky Cabrera then walked, but Abreu and Todd Frazier both struck out to strand two. Luckily for them, no insurance was necessary.

Bullet points:

*Before making the diving stop on Martinez’s grounder in the ninth, Anderson made a strong ranging Web Gem to his left on Casey McGehee.

*Coats and Leury Garcia both started for the Sox on the day they were called up. Coats went 1-for-3 with the double and run, while Garcia went 0-for-3, but provided Adam Eaton a rare day off.

*Jones in September: 4 G, 4⅓ IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

Record: 66-72 | Box score | Highlights