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The limitations of the White Sox roster were particularly limiting tonight. Every time Rick Renteria got carried away in one area, it yanked him back into the reality of the situation.
For instance, he used Xavier Cedeno, Bruce Rondon and Luis Avilan over the course of four batters to record three outs in the seventh. Then, perhaps not wanting to burn through the entire bullpen, he had Juan Minaya try to handle the eighth by himself.
The first two Tigers reached with a single and a walk, which created enough stress to score one run. Jose Abreu had a chance to cut down John Hicks at the plate when he backhanded Victor Reyes’ grounder, but he bobbled the exchange, and that delayed the throw long enough for Hicks to slide in safely.
That ended up being the decisive run, although the White Sox had a chance to tie the game or better in the eighth. Daniel Palka led off with an infield single, after which Renteria pinch-ran Trayce Thompson for him. Matt Davidson singled him to second, but Thompson could only get to second.
Then Renteria had Omar Narvaez bunt both runners over to third, and Palka could’ve advanced on it just like Thompson did. As for the bunt, sometimes that’s not a bad call, but in this situation, it forced Charlie Tilson and/or Adam Engel to execute after an intentional walk to Tim Anderson. The decision to pinch-run Thompson meant the Sox didn’t have an outfielder to replace either one with a hitter who stood a better chance of delivering a fly ball.
Sure enough, Tilson — who had already grounded into a pair of double plays — got sawed off and grounded into a 3-1 fielder’s choice for the second out, and Adam Engel bounced out to short for the third out.
Compounding problems in the ninth, Thompson came up to the plate representing the winning run, as Abreu rolled an infield single to the left side to keep the game alive. One would much rather have Palka at the plate against a righty like Shane Greene. Instead, Thompson popped out harmlessly to shortstop Jose Iglesias in shallow left field to end the game.
Between the overactive bullpen use early, the pinch-running and the bunt, Renteria overthought this game. This roster, what with eight relievers and four flawed outfielders, doesn’t really allow it.
If there’s a silver lining, this game could’ve been more boring. Reynaldo Lopez picked up the good kind of no-decision when Omar Narvaez hit a three-run homer(!) off Mike Fiers to tie the game at 3 in the sixth.
The Tigers owned the time of possession before then. Lopez allowed his usual baserunning traffic in a different way, giving up nine hits, no walks and a hit batter over six innings. He pounded the zone, throwing 73 of 97 pitches for strikes.
Hicks hit a solo shot in the second, and Victor Martinez roped a two-run double to the right-field corner in the third, but otherwise Lopez weathered a barrage of singles. His stuff wasn’t necessarily an issue, as he got 13 swinging strikes and eight on the slider alone, but the Tigers were able to get solid contact on pitches that grabbed too much of the zone.
Fiers, conversely, confounded the White Sox with his usual array of high fastballs. He limited the Sox to soft singles with the exception of Narvaez, who added a hustle double before his first homer of the season. The blast followed one-out singles by Palka and Davidson, and Fiers then plunked Anderson with a first-pitch curveball on his final offering of the evening.
Fiers was smiling as the two talked on Anderson’s way to first base. It’s hard to tell how much Anderson enjoyed the conversation, because Fiers has a history of ugly and/or purposeful misses inside. The benches started to spill onto the field, but they didn’t get that far.
*Yolmer Sanchez committed error, letting the ball clang off the heel of his glove when he charged too hard on an unlikely double-play attempt.
*Davidson and Anderson reached base three times apiece to snap out of their slumps. Yoan Moncada couldn’t quite join them, going 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.
*Minaya did settle down to retire the ninth in order, but his usage still felt like a low-leverage outing he saw through to the end, not a tied game in the eighth.
Record: 24-44 | Box score