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Scoreboard watching: a tale of two games (White Sox 11, Tigers 5)

South Siders take the finale, keeping one eye on last-place Detroit and one eye on the first-place Guardians

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers
Happy José is happy.
Brian Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox took care of business this afternoon, comfortably defeating the Detroit Tigers by a final score of 11-5. While the 2022 season has been a case study in humility and letting go of foregone conclusions, today’s game mercifully shook out exactly how the South Siders might have expected. After all, it should be relatively easy for the talent-heavy White Sox to dispose of a 91-loss team — and today, it was.

But today’s game against the Tigers wasn’t the only game on Chicago’s radar. This recap is the tale of two games: The White Sox versus the Tigers and the first-place Cleveland Guardians versus the Minnesota Twins.

The White Sox got on the board early, smashing three consecutive singles against Tigers starting pitcher Drew Hutchinson. Former MVP José Abreu crossed the plate first, happily yelling to his teammates in the visiting dugout as he did.

The happiness was short-lived. In their half of the first inning, the Tigers quickly got to terrible-starter-turned-mediocre-middle-reliever-turned-spot-starter Vince Velasquez. Velasquez walked the first batter he saw on four straight pitches before allowing a drive from Willi Castro to leave the ballpark, putting the Tigers in front by 2-1.

Fortunately, AJ Pollock evened the score up with a solo home run in the top of the second inning.

The second inning in Cleveland was also very good to the White Sox, as the Twins blasted a solo home run of their own, putting them on top of the Guardians by a score of 1-0.

Back in Detroit, things were about to go off the rails for the Tigers. It started in the fifth inning with back-to-back singles from Elvis Andrus and Yoán Moncada. It continued with their second double-steal in as many games, followed by back-to-back walks to give the White Sox the lead.

But it didn’t stop there. The stage was set for Andrew Vaughn, who broke things wide open with his first career grand slam, a blast that traveled 418 feet over the left-field fence and into the White Sox bullpen. With that slam, Vaughn became the team leader in both home runs (17) and RBIs (73).

Things were looking good for the White Sox in Detroit. An anxious look at the scoreboard showed that the Twins were holding onto their one-run lead against the Guardians in the fifth inning. A strange feeling flashed through me: I can’t be entirely sure, because it’s a very foreign feeling, but I think it was hope.

After Vaughn’s grand slam, the White Sox continued to put on an offensive display. Eloy Jiménez continued to enjoy the cleanup-hitting-DH role, going 3-for-4 and driving in three runs, including a 450-foot monster home run to center field. In the past 15 games, Jiménez has slashed .357/.415/.750. (Not too shabby for a Big Baby.) It’s a great thing to see, and it’s also coming at the right time — if the White Sox are going to catch the Guardians this year, Jiménez is going to have to keep on doing his offensive thing.

Combined, the White Sox punished Tigers pitching to the tune of 12 hits and 11 runs — all but one of them earned.

Hey, you know who also had a pretty decent day? Velasquez. His stat line isn’t imposing, but when you consider the source, it’s hard to be mad at him. Velasquez came out of the bullpen on short notice to start today’s game and ended up going four pretty solid innings, allowing just three hits and two runs while striking out four. He did a good job today, and I wanted to make sure I recognized him for it. Here, look, I’ll even post his highlight reel. Way to go, Vince!

Fresh up (again) from Charlotte, Tanner Banks wrapped things up for the Good Guys with three solid innings of relief. He recorded the final out of today’s game by striking out Akil Baddoo with a 94-mph fastball up in the zone. He earned not only today’s win, but the thanks of a grateful fan base.

With the win in hand, the White Sox improved their record to 76-71, and all eyes were now on the Twins, who were going into the ninth inning in Cleveland. Could they hold onto their one-run lead?

Well, yes and no. Yes, they held onto the lead, but no, it didn’t stay at just one run. When you raise your glass tonight, make sure you raise one to Minnesota’s Luis Arráez, who singled in two insurance runs in the top of the ninth to push the score to 3-0.

That score ultimately stood as the final score. The Twins finally did the White Sox a solid by beating the mighty Guardians. The White Sox now trail Cleveland by only 3 12 games in the AL Central. Chicago will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before heading into three games against the Guards at Guaranteed Rate Field beginning on Tuesday. For all intents and purposes, the White Sox will need a sweep ... but wow, that’s a pretty tall order.

Get your tickets and hold onto your butts, White Sox fans. This is it — this is the final stand of the 2022 season. The one that will determine their future. The one that will finally put to bed the question of whether or not the team can overcome all the many slips they’ve had along the way. The one where they need to put up — or shut up.

It’s enough to make you want to vomit in terror. Be excellent to each other out there.