Let's begin in the ninth inning.
With a 4-2 lead, Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson entered the game to earn his seventh save in April. His outstanding ability to locate his fastball, and commanding his knuckle-curve have been keeping batters off balance. The first batter he faced was notorious White Sox-killer, Victor Martinez.
Robertson hung a curve and Martinez crushed the pitch into the right field bleachers. Now the lead is one run.
After striking out Justin Upton looking, John Hicks doubled to left field, and it became apparent that Robertson did not have his typical stuff. Alex Avila pinched hit for catcher James McCann and singled to right scoring Hicks. Tie game, 4-4.
Robertson wasn't himself and put the White Sox winning streak in serious jeopardy. Thankfully, the Tigers bullpen were themselves as manager Brad Ausmus elected not to use his closer, Francisco Rodriquez. Instead, lefty Justin Wilson got the nod to face Melky Cabrera.
Just like Martinez in the bottom of the ninth, Cabrera swung the momentum pendulum back to the Sox favor with his first home run of 2017, giving Chicago the 5-4 lead. After walking Jose Abreu, manager Rick Renteria had Yolmer Sanchez enter the game as a pinch runner. With one out, and Tigers fans heard on the TV broadcast chanting "Over-rated," Avisail Garcia smacked a triple to center field, easily plating Sanchez and giving the Sox a two-run lead again, 6-4.
Robertson in the 10th, with a runner on third and two outs, had to face Victor Martinez again. This time, he won the battle as Martinez flew out to left ending the game and extending the White Sox winning streak to six games.
A dramatic finish to a game that the Sox had controlled much of the way through. In the first inning, after Tyler Saladino and Abreu walked, Todd Frazier poked a single to right field giving the Sox an early 1-0 lead. Detroit would answer in the bottom half when Ian Kinsler hit a deep flyball to center. Leury Garica badly misplayed the ball and got caught spinning while searching for the flight path. His last attempt dive fell short, and Kinsler had himself a triple. Martinez would drive Kinsler in with a single, and the game was tied 1-1.
In the second, Cody Asche recorded his second hit of the season with a single to center. He would advance to third on Omar Narvaez line drive single setting the table for Leury Garcia. Making up for his defensive lapse, Garcia put the Sox ahead with a sacrifice fly to deep left field, 2-1.
Jose Abreu missed last night's game due to a mild hip flexor strain. Clearly, the injury didn't nag him, as he hit his first two homers of the season in the third and eighth innings. Abreu's first multi-homer game since September 4th, 2016 against Minnesota.
Both Anthony Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle remained terrific in holding on to the lead. Swarzak replaced starter Derek Holland in the seventh with one out and got shortstop Jose Iglesias to ground into a 6-3 double play. In the eighth, Kahnle dominated hitters with his changeup of all pitches, striking out the side.
Holland did pitch well enough to earn the win. After some shaky ball-strike calls in the first on inside corner pitches to right-handers, the veteran threw a good game going 6.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K. His season ERA is now 2.17.
- The six-game winning streak matches last year's longest almost a calendar year later. In 2016, the winning streak was April 22nd to April 27th.
- Thanks to Chris Kamka of Comcast Chicago for this stat nugget, Avisail Garcia is batting .500 against relievers this season (15-for-30)
- Tim Anderson made this great defensive play:
- Adam Eaton is going on the disabled list and the White Sox have a better record than Chris Sale's Boston Red Sox. The Ewing Theory might be in play.