Winning is more fun than losing, which basically goes without saying, but I think it goes deeper than that. Exciting, close baseball games like this one are a lot more engaging than one-sided affairs with a runaway lead. I guess, unless your team has the runaway lead.
This game was just a lot of fun to watch, with incredible moments from Eric Haase and Miguel Cabrera to keep things really interesting, and a really wonderful start from Tarik Skubal, who is going to be a force to be reckoned with when he can get his pitch count a bit more refined.
Before we get into things I’d be remiss in not mentioning that the White Sox were wearing their new City Connect jerseys, which I liked on release but now seeing this cursed image can never take seriously again.
The Tigers began slowly with a 1-2-3 first, but the White Sox were eager for an early score. Tim Anderson led the bottom of the first with a double, and was subsequently scored by a Nick Madrigal single. Skubal finished off the rest of the side, but the Sox drew first blood.
The lead would not belong to Chicago for long, as Miguel Cabrera started the second with a single, and then the red-hot-when-away Eric Haase clobbered a home run to score himself and Cabrera and brought the Tigers into the lead. Willi Castro and Jake Rogers each collected a single in the inning, and Rogers even notched his first career stolen base, but the Tigers only got the two runs in for the inning.
Skubal sat the Sox down in order for the bottom of the second, and Lucas Giolito returned the favor in the top of the third. In the bottom of the third Skubal allowed singles to Madrigal and Moncada, but neither runner scored.
In the top of the fourth Eric Haase figured “you know what, another home run sounds like fun,” and hit a solo shot to left.
For the bottom of the inning, Grandal walked, then advanced to second on a passed ball from Rogers, but the mistake wouldn’t cost the Tigers anything, as the Sox were sent back to the bench on the next two batters.
Entering the top of the fifth, Hill got on base with an infield single, then stole second. Schoop reached on a hit-by-pitch. Unfortunately, the inning ended on a double-play off the bat of Candelario.
Skubal’s outing continued into the bottom of the fifth, where he gave up a walk to Anderson, then a walk to Madrigal. It was clear he was flagging a little but he did manage to finish off the inning without any damage. The fifth was the end of the afternoon for him, and his line for the day was 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 K on 103 pitches. It was a career-high for strikeouts for Skubal and a very nice outing overall.
The top of the sixth went off with a bang as Miguel Cabrera blasted his 492 career home run. The rest of the side went down in order, but who cares… Miggy bomb.
Things got, uh… bad when Skubal gave way to Derek Holland. The bottom of the sixth started with a single to Grandal, then a Vaughn double. Jake Lamb, entering mid-game, hit a double and scored both Grandal and Vaughn. Collins walked, then Mendick bunted into a fielder’s choice. That was enough for Hinch, who pulled Holland and replaced him with Funkhouser, which felt like a bold choice given Friday night’s performance.
Funkhouser ended the inning on two groundouts and the Tigers retained their lead, just by a narrower margin.
The seventh was a rapid and drama-free experience as the Tigers sat down in order, and while the Sox got a Moncada single, he was caught stealing with an absolute laser from Jake Rogers. The eighth was likewise quick and painless. The Tigers went down 1-2-3, as did the Sox, this time with Soto on the mound.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Tigers went down 1-2-3 to lead off the ninth inning, which meant they were holding onto a one-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth with Cisnero on the mound. The Tigers were successful in keeping the Sox off the basepaths, and the Tigers collected a win and avoided a sweep.
Final: Tigers 4, White Sox 3