The Detroit Tigers had to wait to rally.
Rain in the area halted Friday’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox in the bottom of the ninth inning. After a 49-minute delay, White Sox closer Liam Hendriks returned to the mound. Rookie Daz Cameron belted a game-tying two-run homer to right field.
“I was just looking to be ready to hit,” Cameron said. “That was my initial key up there. His fastball runs a little bit, so I wanted to make sure I got on top of it when it came to me swinging the bat. Some good things happened.”
But the Tigers (26-37) came up short, losing 5-4 in 10 innings at Comerica Park.
Yoan Moncada’s sacrifice fly against Jose Cisnero scored Danny Mendick — the free runner on second base — in the top of the 10th inning for the game-winning run. In the bottom of the inning, Chicago’s Aaron Bummer silenced the Tigers.
Detroit has dropped 15 of its past 17 games against the White Sox, dating back to last season.
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Early success from the White Sox came from starter Lucas Giolito. He allowed two runs on five hits and one walk, with nine strikeouts, in six innings. He threw 66 of 105 pitches for strikes, and his changeup and slider each generated nine swings and misses.
Garrett Crochet tossed two scoreless innings and struck out three, but Hendriks — who entered with a 1.71 ERA in 26⅓ innings — couldn’t stop Cameron from hitting his first MLB home run.
After the game, Cameron retrieved his home-run ball from a fan.
“Tonight, I’m definitely sleeping with this thing,” Cameron said.
Mazara’s HR evens score
The Tigers and White Sox traded solo home runs in the second inning. Adam Engel took a first-pitch fastball to left field on a line drive (18-degree launch angle) to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
Entering Friday, Tigers rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal had allowed just three home runs across 27 innings in his past five starts. During his first seven games (five starts, two relief appearances), he gave up 10 home runs in 27 innings.
In the bottom of the second, the Tigers countered.
Nomar Mazara blasted his third home run this season — his first since April 13 in Houston — to even the score. He belted a fastball from Giolito the opposite way to left field.
“He’s been good in this league before,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s always shown power. Hopefully, some consistent at-bats coming up. He can do a lot of damage and do some things that can help us. Obviously, hitting the ball out of the park is one of them.”
Cameron pinch-hit for Mazara in the seventh inning, after Giolito departed. Mazara finished 1-for-2, boosting his batting average to .189 in 33 games. The 24-year-old Cameron made a diving catch in right field in the ninth inning.
“It was wet out there,” Cameron said. “I was hyped about it. I went back on it, started running after it and took the right angle. The ball kind of got in the light a little bit as it started coming down. When I caught it, I ran into the face-down slide. The water was splashing up. It was pretty cool. The fans were screaming. I was in the moment.”
For the third time this season, Skubal completed six innings.
Following his most recent five-inning start, a 4-3 win June 5 against the White Sox, Skubal discussed his desire to finish his opponents in four pitches or less. He talked about wanting to pitch deeper into games. The Tigers have received efficiency from Casey Mize, another rookie pitcher, but are waiting on Skubal.
The hard-throwing lefty took a step forward by getting through the sixth inning. He conceded four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks. Skubal struck out six batters, throwing 60 of 96 pitches for strikes.
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Skubal gave up a double and a single to start the fourth. Engel grounded into a double play, but it was enough to score a run for a 2-1 White Sox lead.
Skubal gave up a double and a single to start the fifth inning, as well. This time, Mendick plated Zack Collins with his single to center field. But Skubal retired the next three batters: Tim Anderson, Yermin Mercedes and Moncada. It took him 21 pitches to get three outs.
Next, Skubal struck out Jose Abreu swinging on four pitches to open the sixth inning. He finished him with a 96 mph fastball above the strike zone. From Anderson to Abreu — Chicago’s top four players in the batting order — Skubal sent them down with ease. It was his third time going through the lineup.
A wild play cost the Tigers a run in the sixth inning.
When facing the American League Central-leading White Sox, limiting miscues is more of a requirement than a suggestion. While the Tigers recorded an out after catcher Jake Rogers’ error on a pickoff attempt, thanks to an uncanny 9-3-5-6-1-4 putout, the throw past first baseman Cabrera gifted Chicago a 4-2 lead.
Because Rogers’ throw to Cabrera was low, Skubal was not charged with an earned run. Skubal got the final out with a three-pitch strikeout on Leury Garcia.
The 24-year-old has a 3.32 ERA with 15 walks and 56 strikeouts over 38 innings in his past seven starts.
Prospect shows defense, power
The Tigers started 22-year-old prospect Isaac Paredes at shortstop for the first time in his MLB career. His continued developments at second base and shortstop allow the organization to use him at three positions, including third base.
Paredes got his first grounder in the third inning.
“He’s very instinctual, got a sneaky good arm that he doesn’t show off a ton at other positions,” Hinch said. “His baseball instincts are really good. I literally think I could put him anywhere in the infield, and even though he’s never played first (base), I could do it. He would find a way to have baseball timing and baseball rhythm. I had no fear putting him at shortstop.”
Anderson produced a hard-hit ball — with a 101.6 mph exit velocity — toward Paredes. As the ball took a tough bounce, Paredes knocked it to the ground with his body. Then, he calmly fired to first baseman Miguel Cabrera for the first out.
He also started a double play in the fourth inning.
In the fifth, Paredes crushed his first home run this season — the second blast in his big-league career — to left field. He tagged a 3-2 changeup from Giolito and sent the ball 377 feet into the bullpen. His home run trimmed the Tigers’ deficit to one run.
It was the seventh home run the Tigers have hit against Giolito in 2021.
“He’s versatile,” Cameron said. “He makes sure that he gets to the right angle when he catches the ball. He has a feel when it comes to playing a baseball game, and I’m sure he’ll get more better than where he’s at right now.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.