White Sox 7, Tigers 5: Tim Anderson leads Sox back over .500

The White Sox opened this game with back-to-back homers, so it’s not surprising that further abrupt turns decided the rubber match.

It is unusual that both turns involved trading fours, with mental short-circuiting creating the openings for the crooked numbers. Fortunately, the White Sox came up with an answer to the four-spot they allowed, and held the line afterward to secure the series.

In the bottom of the fourth, Dylan Cease whistled a fastball past the bat of Victor Reyes for strike three. It also whistled off the mask of James McCann, who was set up to smother a slider in the dirt. Perhaps McCann saw his life flash before his eyes when staring down 99 mph coming at his forehead, but he was slow to retrieve the ball from the backstop, and Reyes reached. Instead of on one and two outs, Cease had two on and one outs.

Cease struck out Harold Castro for the second out, but before he could retire the third, Grayson Greiner doubled home two runs, and Will Castro followed with a two-run homer. Detroit went from trailing 3-1 to leading 5-3.

By the time Cease returned to the mound, he had another two-run lead to hold, because the Tigers had their own processing issue on defense.

Tim Anderson singled off Matthew Boyd to start the fifth, and moved up to second on José Abreu’s walk two batters later. The runners were in motion on Edwin Encarnación’s full-count swing, which screwed up the arrangement on the left side when Encarnación hit a slow chopper to short.

The runners reached the bases ahead to take away the force plays, and Anderson rounded the bases with feigned intent, hoping to draw Niko Goodrum’s intention away from other outs. It worked. Goodrum double-took, but Anderson hadn’t strayed far enough off third for a play to be made there, and he took up enough time that Goodrum had no out at first. Everybody was safe.

Everybody was almost not safe when James McCann lined out to short with the bases loaded. Abreu took a couple steps toward third, but he redirected his energy quick enough to avoid getting doubled off by a fraction of a step, keeping the inning alive for Luis Robert.

And Robert delivered. He was about two feet away from his first grand slam, as his high drive to right caromed high off the angled part of Comerica Park’s right field wall. It was still good enough to clear the bases and give the Sox a 6-5 lead. Nomar Mazara then made it seem like Robert slammed, driving a double over the head of Harold Castro in center field. Mazara’s first RBI as a White Sox restored the White Sox’s two-run cushion.

Everybody tightened up afterward, and the White Sox preserved that two-run lead the rest of the way. Abreu’s defense helped Cease get out of the fifth, as he turned an unassisted double play by faking Miguel Cabrera out of his shoes with a pump to second after he stepped on first. Cease then closed out his afternoon with a 1-2-3 sixth, Jimmy Cordero and Evan Marshall worked around a few runners in the seventh and eighth, and Alex Colomé pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.

It was an easy finish for a game that had an easy start. Anderson won a 10-pitch battle with Boyd by hammering a slider way out to left, with Anderson backpedaling out of the box in triumph. Eloy Jiménez followed by redirecting a up-and-out fastball up and out to right for a quick, violent 2-0 lead.

Jonathan Schoop answered one of those bombs with his own solo shot in the bottom of the first, but Anderson grabbed that run back two innings later. He led off with a triple to left that should have been a double, except Christin Stewart took time to wrestle the ball from underneath the outfield padding instead of holding up his arms. That 90 feet mattered, because Anderson scored two batters later on a batted ball that wouldn’t have gotten the job done (an Abreu tapper to the right side).

Cease improved to 3-1 on the season, and while it hasn’t been pretty, he’s lowered his ERA all the way down to 3.26. His line in this one featured four unearned runs due to the passed ball, but he filled up the mitt (69 of 101 pitches for strikes), which was a big improvement over his walk-laden five shutout innings his last time out.

Bullet points:

*Anderson was a double short of the cycle during his 4-for-5 day, scoring three runs out of the leadoff spot. Alas, he struck out on his last chance to notch the cycle.

*McCann reached base four times against his former team, with two singles and two walks.

*Boyd is 4-7 with a 5.08 ERA against the White Sox for his career, and has a 10.24 ERA this season.

*The Sox improved to 8-3 on the road, and they’re 7-3 against teams not located in Minneapolis or Cleveland.

Record: 10-9 | Box score | Statcast

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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John SF

McCann’s 1st and 2nd walk of the year — helping to fill out his otherwise stellar looking slash lines and peripheral stats.

In his age-30 and free agent season, McCann is putting up some better-than-all-star numbers. James might be upset the Sox signed Grandal after his all star season, but he should really be thanking them for being willing to play the platoon and give him such a chance to wrack up value.

In only 9 games and just 36 plate appearances, McCann has put up nearly as much fWAR as likely downballot 2020 MVP candidates Moncada and Robert in less than half the time.

With every amazing game McCann beats up on rebuilding-quality pitching and left handers (not that that’s *all* he has been doing by any means), he decreases his odds of returning to the Sox next year.

But I hope James comes back to us when he is ready to hang it up and start coaching because his time on the south side has really been a pleasure.

Jason.Wade17

And judging by eye test and baseball prospectus’ framing numbers, he has been better behind the plate this year.

Willardmarshall

He has a lot on the table this season after that second-half sag….

Josh Nelson

I’m bookmarking that Luis Robert bases clearing double as one of the season’s biggest moments. It would have been pretty disheartening if the White Sox lost this game and had it stew until Friday or Saturday.

Go Cubs, Brewers, and Reds tonight.

dwjm3

One nit…Timmy’s homer was to left field

Milky✌️

Timmy has been sorely missed. With him on leadoff the offense just seems to have a much better rhythm, and not only because of the production. He really forced Boyd to show what he had right off the bat.

burning-phoneix

I’m a bit confused here. I didn’t catch the game and saw just the highlights but how can you give up 2HRs but only get 1ER? How are passed balls calculated?

burning-phoneix

Ah, so anything after Harold Castro getting struck out (Who was supposed to be out No.3) is tagged as unearned? Got it.

mikeyb

Was that leadoff at bat the best of Anderson’s career? Fouling off 6 straight 2-strike pitches, battling to get something hittable, and then driving that pitch out of the park; that feels like something we wouldn’t have seen Anderson do last year, or at least 2 years ago. Really really impressed by the work he’s put in to become what Stone would refer to as a “professional hitter.”