This game sure looked like a snoozer early, when the White Sox put together a six-run fourth and the only thing notable about José Abreu’s day was tying a record by making all three outs in that inning (via lineout and double play).
Didn’t pay to nod off, though, because this one not only had a good old-fashioned dugout-clearing fooferaw, but came right down to the wire, with the Sox saved by two atrocious calls by home plate umpire Lance Barrett to hand Liam Hendriks a strikeout of Nico Goodrum with the tying run on to end the game.
Since Abreu and Goodrum have been mentioned, let us move to the ninth for a moment. Tigers reliever Alex Lange hit Jose on the arm, a common occurrence since pitchers know they have to throw him inside because he leans in to crush outside pitches, and because Abreu, being super tough, never much tries to avoid getting hit, though he took this one almost right on the elbow instead of on the biceps. This led to the usual shouting, with Miguel Cairo tossed for whatever he said, and the HOFBP strutting around acting important, as is his wont.
Things calmed down until Lange buried a slider to Yasmani Grandal, which Eric Haase recovered in time to throw Jose out at second. Jason and Stoney think Goodrum must have complained about the slide, which was not out of line, but that’s not what it looked like - Goodrum was holding up his hands in “I’m sorry” mode and Jose was doing the screaming and being held back (by Gavin Sheets - nice save and display of muscle), probably because the tag was, shall we say, midriff-ish and he was a tad tired of getting body parts abused.
Whatever the cause, benches cleared, bullpens emptied and there was a whole lot of shouting and milling about, which, in the usual baseball fashion, ended up with everybody going back to their assigned locales, with no further ejections.
The rest was anticlimax, with Hendriks notching the save after giving up a leadoff single, and Barrett apparently thinking it was only fair to call Goodrum out on pitches well wide of the plate, what with the midriff tag and all.
But let us return to earlier innings.
Dallas Keuchel pitched a mediocre five innings, giving up seven hits and two runs, but - despite Stoney saying he was throwing better - depending on a lot of luck, including a 418’ Willi Castro blast that only stayed in the park because it’s the size of Brazil in center. There was also a line shot he deflected into a double play before giving up a walk and two singles to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead, and a Goodrum double play ball that came after an obvious ball four (apparently Barrett really doesn’t like Goodrum). Thanks to those things, the only other run Keuchel gave up was a Jonathan Schoop homer, but his audition for a postseason start will not rate a callback unless injuries make the situation desperate.
Then came the fourth, and what looked like the White Sox putting it away. After the aforementioned Abreu liner, Tigers starter Matt Manning decided it would be a good idea to start Grandal off with a nice juicy fastball right down the middle. He should have thought that through more.
Manning then demonstrated why he came into the game with an ERA near six, walking Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada, and Andrew Vaughn, and then changing pace by giving up consecutive hits to César Hernández, Zack Collins, Luis Robert and Leury García before José’s record-tying double play grounder.
That made it 6-1 and an apparent laugher, just 6-2 after Schoop’s dinger, but Eloy decided a little extra breathing room was needed and unleashed a 432-foot monster in the seventh to make it 8-2.
That was good thinking on Eloy’s part, because the Tigers came back with five in the eighth against Mike Wright, Jr., (another failed postseason audition) and Garrett Crochet, who our HOFBP decided to leave in to suffer, and made it 8-7. That inning might well have meant losing the game, except after Miguel Cabrera started it with a double, A.J. Hinch gave his aging superstar a break and put in a pinch runner, only to have that runner - .146 hitter Zack Short - come to bat with runners on the corners and end the inning by fouling out.
That ends the White Sox road season - yes, below .500 at 40-41 - with the team returning home for two games against Cincinnati and, of course, three more with Detroit. It also keeps alive hopes the Astros will continue to slump and the Sox can sneak into home field advantage in round one.