Eric Haase powers Detroit Tigers to 11-5 win over Chicago White Sox

Detroit Free Press

When the baseball skipped past Billy Hamilton’s outstretched glove in center field, Detroit Tigers slugger Eric Haase put his legs into another gear. Known for driving home runs over the fence, Haase unleashed his secret weapon.

Speed.

“When he dove, it got by him,” Haase said. “I knew it was time to turn it on.”

Hamilton chased after the ball, which rolled to the warning track. Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera scored easily. Third base coach Chip Hale aggressively waved his arm. Haase chugged around third base and crossed home plate for an inside-the-park three-run homer in the fourth inning.

But that moment wasn’t the only reasons fans applauded Saturday at Comerica Park. The Tigers (37-46) scored four more runs in the fifth inning, propelling them to a 11-5 win over the Chicago White Sox in the second of three games in the series.

Entering Saturday, Detroit had lost 18 of its past 20 games against the White Sox.

“Wins, we’ll take them from whoever we can be lucky enough to get them from,” Haase said. “But these guys have notoriously beat us up a little bit. We’ve just been playing really good baseball, and to be doing it against the (American League Central) division leaders is huge.”

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Haase’s inside-the-park home run was the first by a Tiger since JaCoby Jones’ on Aug. 10, 2020, against the White Sox.

For their 11 runs, the Tigers recorded 10 hits and eight walks — scoring three runs in the fourth inning, four in the fifth, three in the seventh and one in the eighth. Haase crushed his second home run in the seventh (this one over the fence in right field). It marked his fourth multi-homer game in 2021.

His three-run blast pushed the Tigers’ lead to 10-5.

“They have played us very tough this year,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We’ve had some close games that slipped away against them. They’re leading the division for a reason. They have a ton of talent and they’re doing a good job of collecting a lot of wins. Today, we fought back.”

Haase finished 3-for-4 with six RBIs. Through 36 games this season, he has 11 home runs. Schoop crushed his team-leading 16th homer (in 79 games) in the eighth inning. His solo homer traveled 440 feet to straightaway center.

“That was a no-doubter off the bat,” Haase said.

Hinch turned to his bullpen in the sixth inning.

His first reliever, right-hander Joe Jimenez, struck out the side, all on fastballs: Hamilton and Danny Mendick went down swinging, and Zack Collins got punched out looking. For Mendick’s whiff to end the inning, Jimenez’s fastball maxed out at 97.3 mph.

Once Jimenez completed his job, Hinch went to his most reliable relievers. Righty Jose Cisnero pitched a scoreless seventh, thanks to an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play started by shortstop Zack Short. Right-hander Kyle Funkhouser added a scoreless eighth, this time behind a 4-6-3 double play started by second baseman Willi Castro.

Righty Buck Farmer pitched a perfect ninth.

“This are clicking for him,” Hinch said about Jimenez. “Obviously, Fett (pitching coach Chris Fetter) and Juan (Nieves, assistant pitching coach) have done a great job with him, both mentally and physically. I trust him a lot. I said early in the season, ‘Our best bullpen has Joe Jimenez in it.’ … Joe deserves a lot of credit.”

A big fifth inning

The Tigers made the most of singles and walks to chase White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel and post four runs in the fifth. Here’s how the first three batters set the table: Castro (single), Jake Rogers (single) and Akil Baddoo (single).

A mound visit didn’t help Keuchel’s performance.

Schoop singled up the middle to score two runs and tie the game at five-all. Next, Jeimer Candelario shot a single to right field — he entered Saturday 5-for-28 (.179) in his past eight games — to score Baddoo from second base for a 6-5 lead.

“Against Dallas, you can’t be too proud to take a single,” Hinch said. “You have to be able to take your walks and take a single against Dallas and then deliver the knockout punch when you can get a ball through the infield or get a ball up in the air and get it elevated.

“If you hunt damage early against Keuchel, he’s going to have you where he wants you. I was proud of our group for hanging in there.”

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Chicago manger Tony La Russa had seen enough, calling Ryan Burr out of the bullpen to replace Keuchel. Burr struck out consecutive batters (Cabrera and Haase) before allowing back-to-back walks to Robbie Grossman and Short.

The walk to Short came with the bases loaded, so the Tigers jumped ahead 7-5. Meanwhile, White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz seemingly made a comment about missed calls by home plate ump Tom Hallion from the dugout. He was ejected from the game.

Keuchel conceded seven runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out two, throwing 49 of 79 pitches for strikes.

Skubal gives up five runs

Left-hander Tarik Skubal wishes he would have completed his outing without allowing Leury Garcia to punch a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning. After Haase’s inside-the-park home run gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead, the White Sox quickly grabbed it back.

Chicago’s rally started with Tim Anderson’s double to start the fifth. Jose Abreu knocked a one-out single through the infield and into right field, knotting the score at three runs. A two-out blast from Garcia — his second long ball of 2021 — put Chicago ahead 5-3.

“I don’t think he had great stuff or great execution,” Hinch said about Skubal. “He mixed in a few well-executed pitches when he needed to, and the Garcia homer was probably the kicker. He didn’t locate his fastball the way he had in his previous starts.”

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Skubal allowed five runs — three in the fifth inning — on eight hits and one walk. He struck out six and threw 65 of 94 pitches for strikes. The first two runs against him came in the first inning on RBIs from Abreu (single) and Garcia (force out).

He threw 22 pitches in the first inning, 22 in the second, 14 in the third, 11 in the fourth and 25 in the fifth. The 24-year-old rookie recorded two strikeouts in both the fourth and fifth innings.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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