Tigers stride forward with series win vs. Sox

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — The last time the Tigers had won a series against the White Sox, Shane Greene saved both victories. That was April 2019.

The last time Detroit had won back-to-back games against the White Sox, Francisco Liriano earned one of the wins. That was Labor Day week of 2018.

As the Tigers pieced together early runs against Lucas Giolito on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park, there was the feeling of another step being taken in Detroit’s march back to competitiveness in the American League Central. Sunday’s 6-5 win not only took the rubber match of the three-game set, it completed a week during which the Tigers beat Cleveland and Chicago, two division rivals who have tormented them in recent years.

The Tigers won more games against the White Sox this weekend (two) than they did in 10 matchups last season. They did so with three starting pitchers who were in the Minor Leagues the last time Detroit beat the Sox in a series in 2019. Only Tarik Skubal lasted long enough to get a decision, picking up a win Saturday despite allowing five runs in as many innings, but the bullpen picked up fellow prospect Matt Manning after his early exit on Sunday.

The Tigers didn’t pummel Giolito so much as pepper him, denying him the strikeouts he usually racks up against Detroit with a disciplined approach. Akil Baddoo turned an 0-2 fastball into a first-inning leadoff single, then set up a run with his speed, swiping second base for his team-high 13th stolen base of the season before coming around on back-to-back groundouts. He doubled in two more runs an inning later, declining to chase a high fastball before ripping a 2-2 changeup into the right-field corner.

Five of Detroit’s first six batters in the second inning reached base safely against Giolito, four of them following two-strike counts. Jeimer Candelario led off the attack by lining an 0-2 fastball to left for a single, then scored when Harold Castro — 0-for-9 off Giolito entering the day — lined an 0-2 changeup back through the middle.

Giolito eventually settled down with help from his slider, but the Tigers had already built a lead by then. Two-out RBI hits from Candelario and Eric Haase tacked on two insurance runs.

Giolito finished with fewer strikeouts (five) than innings pitched (six) against the Tigers for the first time in eight starts since August 2018.

Manning had his own struggles finishing off batters. Five of his seven hits allowed came in two-strike counts, and he didn’t strike out a batter. Tyler Alexander, Kyle Funkhouser, Daniel Norris and Joe Jiménez picked him up with 5 1/3 scoreless innings and seven strikeouts.

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