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The White Sox would’ve had unfinished business with the Tigers regardless of how they wrapped up today’s make-up game in Detroit, because the Tigers come to Chicago for three more to wrap up the season.
That said, the late innings made this coming week’s finale a lot more intriguing than it has any right to be.
A game the White Sox led 8-2 became one the White Sox survived 8-7, with José Abreu avenging a painful HBP in the ninth inning with a hard slide into second, causing benches to clear. Liam Hendriks closed it out with a victory roar directed at Detroit’s bench, so it’s probably going to take longer than three days to forget everything that transpired.
Abreu got drilled on the elbow with an 0-2 Alex Lange fastball. When Abreu doesn’t feel it, he sprints to first. When Abreu is angry, he lingers in the batter’s box.
He took his time taking first base, but he wasted no time gunning for second on a pitch in the dirt. Eric Haase threw out Abreu by a step at second, but that seemed secondary to Abreu’s mission of sending a message. He slid through the bag into shortstop Niko Goodrum, who didn’t appreciate being potential collateral damage. They exchanged words, benches cleared, and Gavin Sheets did an admirable job of keeping Abreu in the game.
Liam Hendriks closed it out by pitching around a leadoff single with a deep flyout and two strikeouts, the latter of which was generously gifted by home plate umpire Lance Barrett, whose inconsistency allowed him to atone for missed strikes earlier in the game. He screamed with a little more vigor than usual.
None of this should’ve been necessary, but Mike Wright entered the eighth inning with an 8-2 lead, faced three batters and loaded the bases with a double, a walk and an HBP. Garrett Crochet couldn’t stanch the bleeding, giving up a two-run single and a two-run triple before getting some footing. Even then, he gave up a sac fly before the inning came to a close, making it a one-run game.
Perhaps the silver lining is that Abreu created a platform to make his dissatisfaction with the bruises known. That could pay off in future series, maybe as soon as this October.
Up until that point, this game had the makings of a pleasant afternoon, starting with Dallas Keuchel throwing another useful five innings, and with fewer baserunners than the last time, when he allowed 11 hits over five innings.
This time there were only seven. Detroit picked up two singles in the first inning but couldn’t turn it into a rundidn’t manage to score a run. Isaac Parades walked to start in the next frame but was wiped away on a nifty double play turned by Cesar Hernandez and Leury García. Alas, García bobbled a chance after a two-out walk to extend the inning, and Akil Baddoo turned into an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. That said, Keuchel had allowed six baserunners over the first two innings, so he wasn’t helping himself.
Keuchel made quicker work of Detroit in the third inning. Robbie Grossman struck out, and back-to-back groundouts for Miguel Cabrera and Jeimer Candelario gave Keuchel his first three up, three down inning of the game. Keeping Detroit to a single run paid off for Keuchel as Yasmani Grandal helped out his pitcher with the bat. Matt Manning’s 2-0 fastball was center cut, and Grandal did not miss. A mammoth 414-foot blast with an exit velocity of 105 mph to center field tied the game 1-1.
Grandal’s blast was just the start of a big offensive outburst. The following eight White Sox hitters reached base, with Hernández driving in two runs with his bases-loaded double.
Zack Collins ripped a single to right field to score two more runs, and then he’d cross the plate himself on Luis Robert’s RBI double. The Sox scored six in the inning, and Abreu was the only batter Detroit could retire. He flied out before Grandal’s home run and grounded into the inning-ending double play.
Jonathan Schoop hit his 21st home run of the season off Keuchel in the fifth inning. That would be the last run allowed by Keuchel. The good news is in three consecutive starts, Keuchel allowed just two earned runs. Tigers hitters whiffed ten times against Keuchel, with the changeup and slider generating the most. A remaining concern is the number of baserunners allowed as Detroit had seven hits off Keuchel plus two walks in five innings.
In what’s hopefully a sign of things to come this postseason, Eloy Jimenez unloaded on an inside fastball in the seventh inning. His deep fly traveled 432 feet over the wall just left of center for a two-run shot, Jimenez’s 10th of 2021.
*The White Sox clinched the season series against Detroit with three games remaining.
*The Sox finished 15-16 in games started by Keuchel during the regular season.
*Miguel Cairo was ejected after Abreu’s HBP for shouting something from the dugout.