CHICAGO — Wily Peralta worked out of jams throughout the early innings of his start, but he was later overwhelmed by aggressive base running, defensive mistakes and a hefty workload, as the Detroit Tigers were throttled by their American League Central rivals.
The Chicago White Sox created havoc for three runs in the fourth inning. Unlike recent matchups, the Tigers couldn’t keep up with Chicago’s toughness, nor could they mount a comeback, in Friday’s 8-1 loss in the three-game series opener in front of 30,729 fans at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Detroit has lost five of its past six games.
“When he gets going, their whole offense takes off,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said of White Sox leadoff hitter Tim Anderson. “He was a catalyst tonight. We didn’t control him. We gave them a couple extra opportunities with walks and a few missed plays. They’re too explosive to give them those kind of opportunities.”
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The Tigers (76-84) spiraled in the bottom of the fourth inning. The troubles began when Gavin Sheets dropped Peralta’s two-strike splitter into center for a single. But the issues quickly worsened, even though Cesar Hernandez hit a ground ball to first baseman Jonathan Schoop.
Upon fielding the ball, Schoop threw toward second, attempting to turn a double play.
But the ball deflected off Sheets’ back for a throwing error, advancing both runners into scoring position. The White Sox capitalized with Anderson’s RBI single — breaking a 1-1 tie — to left fielder Robbie Grossman. He made an uncharacteristic throw that allowed Anderson to advance to second base on the play.
“There was a lack of communication between the corner infield, so we had nobody in the middle of the diamond, which is where Grossman is going to throw the ball,” Hinch said. “Wily hadn’t even got to back up where he belongs, so he ended up cutting the throw and was just a little short on (Anderson) at second base. Bad play and certainly one that created more energy in their inning.”
Just like that, the White Sox had a 2-1 lead.
And they didn’t stop there.
Luis Robert and Jose Abreu chipped in RBIs for a 4-1 advantage with a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice, respectively. Abreu drove in his second run of the game on a grounder to shortstop Niko Goodrum, but it wouldn’t have happened if not for Anderson’s speed. He used one of his many tools to beat a throw home from Goodrum, who tried for the play at the plate instead of the sure out at first base.
White Sox starter Lance Lynn pitched five innings of one-run ball. He struck out four and conceded just four hits and one walk. The bullpen picked up where its ace left off with scoreless efforts from Garrett Crochet in the sixth, Ryan Tepera in the seventh, Craig Kimbrel in the eighth and Liam Hendriks in the ninth.
Miguel Cabrera finished 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.
Peralta grinds early; ChiSox strike again
The White Sox jumped Peralta in the third inning with Abreu’s solo home run to left field for a 1-0 lead, but they had already made the Tigers’ starter uncomfortable in the first and second.
Peralta escaped with the bases loaded in the first inning and stranded runners on the corners in the second. Following Abreu’s 30th homer — a solo shot — in the third, the Tigers turned an inning-ending double play with another set of runners on the corners.
Peralta allowed five runs (two earned) on nine hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out three and fired 62 of 96 pitches for strikes. The 32-year-old veteran generated 13 swings and misses, including six with his esteemed splitter.
“Wily was living on the edge a little bit,” Hinch said. “Some of the walks early came back to bite him. We missed the opportunity on the double play, that (fourth) inning exploded, and then they got to him at the end a little bit. Wily’s going to gut it out as long as he can go. He’s never going to back down from competition.”
In Peralta’s final start of the season, he needed 27 pitches in the first inning, 13 in the second, nine in the third, 23 in the fourth, 12 in the fifth and 12 more in the sixth. Abreu’s sixth-inning RBI double put the White Sox ahead 5-1.
The reigning AL MVP finished 2-for-4 with one walk and four RBIs, while Anderson went 4-for-4 with one walk and one RBI. Peralta ended his 2021 campaign with a 3.07 ERA, 38 walks and 58 strikeouts in 93⅔ innings over 19 games.
“I’ve been really thankful for the Tigers,” Peralta said. “They gave me the shot to sign a minor-league contract and work my way up. When I came here to show what I can do, they gave me the opportunity to start. I really appreciate the opportunity they gave me.”
Facing right-handed reliever Bryan Garcia, the White Sox tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning. Garcia allowed three runs on four hits and two walks before lefty Ian Krol took over with two outs and the bases loaded.
Krol struck out Yasmani Grandal to avoid further damage.
How Tigers scored
The Tigers scored their lone run in the fourth inning.
Akil Baddoo won a nine-pitch battle with Lynn, which resulted in a line-drive single. He then stole second base — his 17th stolen base — to put himself in scoring position. Baddoo scored easily on Grossman’s double to tie the game at 1-1.
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The Tigers finished 7-for-31 with four walks and 11 strikeouts, along with going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
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.