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it’s almost like the White Sox wanted Yermín Mercedes to break his hitless slump when the biggest reward was on the other side. There’s no good reason for a walk-off situation being required tonight otherwise.
The White Sox held leads of 6-1 and 7-2 in the back half of this game, yet they still had to bat in the bottom of the ninth. It ended when Mercedes muscled a line drive into left field, snapping his 0-for-25 skid with a single that finally sealed a victory that should’ve been way easier.
Extra innings loomed as a threat, but Jose Cisnero couldn’t even register an out in the ninth. He bounced a slider into Yoán Moncada to start the inning, then gave up a single to José Abreu through the right side that put runners on the corners for Mercedes. With the infield in, Mercedes just needed to get something to the outfield. He used his two-strike approach from the first pitch, and he ended up getting around enough on 99 mph for a soft line drive that landed into left field.
How it got to that point is kinda beyond me, in the sense that my connection sputtered as Codi Heuer loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh inning as the White Sox held a 7-2 lead. Apparently Tony La Russa called for Evan Marshall, who briefly made things better (sac fly) before making things worse. He gave up a three-run homer to Jonathan Schoop to make it a one-run game. Three batters later, it was still a one-run game, but not in a way that White Sox fans wanted. Just when it appeared that a Jeimer Candelario line drive would give Marshall a way out, the Tigers pulled him back down. Miguel Cabrera singled on an 0-2 fastballl that wasn’t high enough, and Eric Haase homered on a sinker that wasn’t low enough to make it an 8-7.
The White Sox tied it in the bottom of the seventh via an annoying Yasmani Grandal homer. It wasn’t anything Grandal did — Abreu was just tagged out at second trying to advance on a Mercedes fly ball when he didn’t realize that any base was scoring position for Grandal tonight. Grandal homered twice and walked twice tonight, giving him a slash line that can best be described as perverted and depraved (.154/.400/.433).
Grandal opened the game’s scoring with a homer off Spencer Turnbull in the second inning. The Tigers answered it in the top of the third with an assist from the White Sox. Yoán Moncada didn’t stay down on Robbie Grossman’s two-out grounder to keep the inning alive, and Schoop made the Sox pay with a double that Jake Lamb couldn’t cut off in left.
This game could have been a respectable pitcher’s duel had Turnbull remained in the game, but he exited after four innings with the dreaded forearm tightness. When the Detroit bullpen got involved, madness started taking over. The Sox loaded the bases immediately with a Grandal walk, a Lamb single and a bunt by Leury García that Kyle Funkhouser refused to regard as a sacrifice by throwing wide of first base.
Nick Madrigal couldn’t get a run home, but Tim Anderson laced a single through the middle to score two, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead. Adam Eaton’s bouncer to second was lucky to score one, but when Willi Castro’s home got past Erik Haase, Anderson followed García home to make it 5-1. Abreu then capped off the scoring with an RBI groundout.
That should have been enough for the White Sox, especially since Dallas Keuchel did what he needed to do against a lesser opponent. He allowed six baserunners over six innings, erasing one of them with a double play. He also threw just 80 pitches. A Schoop solo shot in the sixth might’ve scared La Russa from having Keuchel start one more, but little did he know what waited for everybody around the corner.
*Billy Hamilton preserved the tie game in the ninth by running down a Cabrera drive in left center off Garrett Crochet.
*Crochet, somebody who was supposed to throw single innings as a way to reacclimate to MLB pitching since his IL stint, threw 30 pitches over 1⅔ innings. He allowed a single and two walks, and Liam Hendriks had to come in to get the final batter via a routine fly to left.
*Turnbull’s last batter was Mercedes, whom he struck out after a 12-pitch tangle. Mercedes lost the battle but won the war.
*Turnbull’s exit meant Detroit had to use six relievers, four of whom were scored upon. *Nick Madrigal did the damage against Tyler Alexander with his second career homer. One at-bat after a 61.5 mph popout failed to score anybody, he mustered 99.2 mph that scored himself.