Chris Sale's disheartening injury and uncertain future was already going to be more than enough to cast a pall over game. But paired with injuries to Adam Eaton, Conor Gillaspie and an emergency start for Charlie Leesman against Justin Verlander, it was hard to feel like the White Sox would be able to do much more than fulfill their league requirement to attend and play the game.
Give them full credit that they did. The Sox played all nine innings and took their 8-6 defeat without incident, injury nor descending into parody. If the starting pitchers were different, the five runs they added after the seventh probably would have won them the game.
Leesman, tragically promoted without the use of an out-pitch, somehow found his way to pitching in the third inning and nursing a 1-1 tie. Bad luck handed Leesman two soft singles to lead off the inning, whereas his career development left him without the tools to pitch over it.
With two strikes on Ian Kinsler, Leesman had no option besides trying to tumble his slider down-and-in until something gave way. Miguel Cabrera took the very next pitch out of the park to right, Victor Martinez ripped an 1-2 hanger for a double and would score on a sacrifice fly, and the Tigers had their ballgame. And Leesman had his night. He left in favor of Zach Putnam with an out left in the third and six runs on his tab.
Jose Abreu's pretty first inning bomb to dead center gave the Sox the briefest of first inning 1-0 leads, and the offense was more strand-happy than ineffective off Verlander. The Tigers didn't record a 1-2-3 inning the entire night, and their 1`3 hits were centered around a 4-4, BB night from Dayan Viciedo, who is up to .361/.412/.525 in this opening month.
When the Tigers bullpen came on for the last two innings and started introducing their typical poor command to the mix, the Sox offense actually started humming. An Adam Dunn walk and back-to-back singles from Viciedo and Ramirez set up two runs off Al Alburquerque in the eighth, and Phil Coke got two quick outs before completely dismantling in the ninth.
Marcus Semien started a furious game-ending rally with a double down the line, scored on Paul Konerko's first hit since Opening Day and second RBI of the year, and Dunn cranked a no-doubter two-run shot to right to bring the game within two. Joba Chamberlain came on and placed the tying run on base by walking Viciedo on four pitches before Alexei ended it when his looping line drive to left was snagged by J.D. Martinez.
Decent effort, Sox.
Team Record: 10-11
Next game is Wednesday at 6:08pm in Detroit on Comcast SportsNet+
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