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Tigers 5, White Sox 2: Unlucky seventh inning sinks South Siders

Niko Goodrum’s home run put the Tigers ahead for good

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox
Not quite enough: Giolito’s stats were terrific through six innings, but he ran into trouble in the seventh and picked up the loss.
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox benefited from a weak defensive performance by Detroit, but the Tigers broke through with a big seventh inning to win on Tuesday night.

Lucas Giolito’s previous start did not go well, as he was shelled against the Red Sox in a lopsided loss. He was seeking to put that game in the rearview mirror, but this game did not start out on a positive note. Giolito missed his target with a fastball on the inner half, and Miguel Cabrera launched a long home run (445 feet) in the top of the first. This was Cabrera’s second homer of the season, and Cabrera inched closer to an iconic milestone, as it was career home run No. 489.

Although Cabrera’s solo shot gave the Tigers an early 1-0 lead, the White Sox wasted no time with their rally against José Ureña. In the bottom of the first, Tim Anderson got things started with a leadoff single. Adam Eaton followed with a single of his own, and Anderson advanced to third. Then, the White Sox picked up a run in a very unusual way. After a pickoff throw to first, first baseman Jonathan Schoop threw to third in an attempt to catch Anderson leaning. Schoop’s throw was accurate, but third baseman Jeimer Candelario could not handle it, and the ball bounced into foul territory. As a result, Anderson scored the tying run easily.

The bottom of the third got started in a similar way, as Adam Eaton and Yoán Moncada got back-to-back singles to open it up. With one out, Yermín Mercedes hit a grounder to third base, and Candelario made another blunder, as he threw the ball into right field. Eaton scored on the play, as the White Sox took a 2-1 lead. Candelario was charged with another error, and Detroit would finish with five on the night.

Meanwhile, Giolito made an excellent recovery after Cabrera’s first-inning home run. The Tigers went down quietly most of Giolito’s remaining innings on the mound. But Giolito ran into some trouble during the latter innings, and Tony La Russa likely left him in the game longer than he should have.

One of the hiccups came in the sixth, when Cabrera hit a grounder that nearly found a hole between shortstop and third. Anderson made a diving stop to keep the ball in the infield, and this forced baserunner Robbie Grossman to hold at third. That single put runners on the corners with two outs, but Giolito struck out Schoop with three consecutive changeups to escape the jam.

In the seventh, however, Giolito ran into a jam that he could not escape. Giolito’s pitch count was at 89 entering the seventh, so a quick inning would have been helpful, but it was not in the cards. Willi Castro drew an eight-pitch walk to lead off, which was an ominous way to open the inning. Akil Baddoo flew out, but not before a nine-pitch at-bat, bringing Giolito’s pitch count to 106. Then, Wilson Ramos stung a 108.7 mph line drive into the right-center gap to drive in the tying run.

This appeared to be an ideal time to turn to the bullpen, but Giolito remained in the game. On the very next pitch, Niko Goodrum launched a go-ahead, two-run homer to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead.

Oddly, even after all that damage, La Russa left Giolito in the game. The next hitter, JaCoby Jones, crushed a pitch to center (388 feet, .700 xBA), but Leury García tracked it down. Still, Giolito remained in, and he issued a four-pitch walk to Robbie Grossman. Only then did La Russa remove Giolito. By the time Giolito’s night was over, his pitch count was 114. His final line: 6 23 innings, four runs (all earned), five hits, three walks, seven strikeouts.

After the game, controversy erupted. Giolito noted that he was “gassed” in the seventh, and when asked, La Russa fell on his sword:

Of course, the buck stops with La Russa. But it’s remarkable that this was allowed to happen. La Russa didn’t notice. Pitching coach Ethan Katz didn’t notice. Catcher Yasmani Grandal didn’t notice. Giolito, who apparently was gassed as he hit triple-digit pitches in spite of two extra days’ rest, chose not to motion Yaz out to the mound, which would have eventually drawn out Katz or La Russa.

This breakdown in communication would cost the White Sox the game.

In the eighth, after a Mercedes single and a walk drawn by Grandal, the White Sox had runners on first and second with one out. But, like many other times this game, the South Siders could not cash in on the scoring opportunity. Billy Hamilton, who came on as a pinch-runner earlier in the game, struck out swinging, and García struck out looking to end the inning.

The White Sox finished 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Errors were largely responsible for the only two runs they scored in this game, as they struggled to cash in on scoring opportunities. The Tigers granted the White Sox five extra opportunities, but the White Sox just could not make them pay.

The Tigers’ five-game losing streak came to a close, as they improved to 8-16 and left the Minnesota Twins alone in the AL Central basement. Meanwhile, the White Sox’s four-game winning streak ended, as they fell to 12-10.

The White Sox are back in action tomorrow. Once again, the first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CST. Bill Meincke will have your coverage at South Side Sox, and Ashley Sanders proffers the Six Pack of Stats writeup.

Let’s hope tomorrow’s game goes better than this one.