It was a weird feeling going to the last game of the season, but knowing the most important part of it all hasn’t even started yet. It was a little bit easier to leave the ballpark today and watch that final out, knowing that it’s nowhere near the end for this year — and that is something to be grateful for.
Dylan Cease started on the mound, but was immediately hit with trouble as Harold Castro hit a two-out triple on a misread by Leury García. Castro then scored shortly after, as Eric Haase doubled to give the Tigers an early lead.
Luis Robert wasted no time against Tyler Alexander, responding back with a solo home run that looked quite literally like a laser going out of the ballpark courtesy to the the 118 mph exit velocity.
Cease then pitched a clean top of the second inning, although he allowed a single and walk. Alexander also got into the groove, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second. The White Sox had a chance to score in the bottom of the third inning with two on and two out, but were unable to convert.
Cease pitched a scoreless top of the fourth inning, and was then replaced by Michael Kopech to start the fifth. It was a short but successful outing for Cease, as he went four innings with just four hits, one run, and five strikeouts.
Cease ended his breakout year in the top three in strikeouts in baseball. We will see what role he plays in the playoffs, and how he performs when it matters most.
Kopech allowed a leadoff single to AKil Baddoo, who then stole second. He advanced to third on a fly out to left, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Castro to give Detroit a 2-1 lead.
Alexander stayed out for the fifth inning and got into some trouble, as he allowed back-to-back two-out singles to César Hernández and Tim Anderson, but was able to squirm out of the jam.
To start the sixth inning, Zack Collins subbed in for Yasmani Grandal behind the plate. The adjustment seemed to be no problem for Kopech, as he struck out three in the inning. He also proceeded to strike out two in the top of the seventh, racking up his total to six strikeouts in three innings of relief.
Drew Hutchinson came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, as Alexander had a successful day on the mound with six innings of four hits, one run, and four strikeouts. Adam Engel opened up the inning with a double, and Andrew Vaughn immediately drove him in with a single to tie the game, 2-2. Bye-bye win, Tyler.
Anderson hit a single, followed by a walk by Robert to load the bases. Unfortunately on a wacky play, the Tigers were able to get the double play on a Yoán Moncada grounder to first base, as TA got caught up in a rundown.
Ryan Tepera got a clean inning of work in the eighth, and Reynaldo López came out to start the ninth. Unfortunately, Daz Cameron started off the inning with a solo home run to put the Tigers up, 3-2. The scoring didn’t end there, as Willi Castro hit a single, followed by a Dustin Garneau double to extend the lead to 4-2. Baddoo also hit a sacrifice fly to score Garneau and make it 5-2. Matt Foster replaced López and got out of the inning cleanly.
In the bottom of the ninth, the South Siders threatened with Michael Fulmer on the mound, but were unable to score any runs.
Not the ideal end to the season, but all is still well. The team will head to Minute Maid Park to play the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series starting on Thursday.
It has been such a fun season getting to cover every single Sunday game. Everyone enjoy these next few stress-free days, and get ready for an electric series starting on Thursday!