Already this season, the Detroit Tigers have come back to win five games when trailing after seven innings.
Number five, a 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on a hot Friday night, came courtesy of an ex-Tiger. Bruce Rondón, who squandered a second straight sweet start from Reynaldo López, hosted a woeful eighth inning that keyed Motown’s comeback this time around.
The White Sox were up 3-0 by the fourth inning, and still held a 4-2 advantage after seven. But once López yielded to Rondon, the Bengal bats came alive. José Iglesias led off with a double, and after a JaCoby Jones K, Leonys Martin singled Iglesias in to draw Detroit within one.
Nick Castellanos collected his third hit of the night on an 0-1 count, driving a double into the left-field corner, and with Martin racing around to score, the White Sox executed a February spring training drill of a relay. Charlie Tilson overthrew first cutoff man Tim Anderson, leaving Yoán Moncada to make the throw home. And Moncada’s throw, from deep shortstop, was awful — far up the third-base line, causing Omar Narváez to make a catch-and-tag contortion to get Martin at the plate.
Martin was called safe, replay made it look highly suspect (Narváez pretty clearly glove-tapped Martin before Martin’s trailing foot slid over home), but not suspect enough. Rondón, combustible during his days in Detroit but oddly chill on this play, stood impassively, mere inches from home plate, and showed no emotion whatsoever on the call.
The ballgame was tied, 4-4, Castellanos moved to third base, and Rondón departed.
That tying run is only overlooked for its ludicrousness because of what came afterward.
The untouchable Jace Fry came in to put out the fire, and he did his part, inducing self-jam from Jeimer Candelario that produced a fart of a popup to the right side, which pretzeled José Abreu and fell for a single. Moncada, with a better angle on the ball and, dunno, being a lithe infielder nine years Abreu’s junior, made a light jog leftward toward the ball, but mostly chilled out and watched it fall, unmolested, to the turf. Castellanos raced home to score, cheeky as a cat burglar.
The only hope of the White Sox ninth, an infield hit from Yolmer Sánchez, was erased by tonight’s Eeyore, Abreu, on a double-play grounder.
Detroit is now unbeaten in four games against the White Sox this season. Remember when the Tigers came to a chilly Sox Park in April and whizzed all over the White Sox’s opening weekend, turning Chicago’s sweet 3-2 start into the uh-oh the 2018 season has now become? Remember the disbelief over the sweep, culminating in that bizarre bullpen meltdown, cherry-topped by BP tosses from Joakim Soria? Well, the Tigers muscling another win away from the White Sox doesn’t seem so bizarre now.
The positive story of the night was López’s second straight gem. It was more of a “vintage” López outing, so to speak, as the righthander wriggled out of jams of his own making (five hits, three walks) with just two runs of damage. (Ironically enough, the damage was inflicted in the fourth inning, off a wild pitch and an RBI ground out.) He touched 97 mph with his heater early, but leveled off as the game wore on, after even the native Dominican was like, the hell is this heat, it’s late May in Detroit.
Offensively, the White Sox did strike at Mike Fiers early, with Moncada sending the first pitch of the game back out for a double, scoring on Abreu’s double. Anderson (3-for-4, homer, two ribs) tapped in Abreu, and the game was 2-0 through half a frame, with both RBI coming with two outs.
At 15-33, the White Sox are back in sole possession of the worst 48-game start in franchise history, as well as a 51-win pace for the season.