The Chicago White Sox, for the third game in a row, grabbed a first-inning lead against the Detroit Tigers.
In those three opening frames, the White Sox scored one run Friday off left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, two runs Saturday off right-hander Casey Mize and two runs Sunday off lefty Tarik Skubal.
To go with the two early runs in Sunday’s series finale, the White Sox continued to hammer Skubal, adding two runs in the third inning and one more in the fourth. The Tigers’ offense, meanwhile, never showed up in the 10-1 loss at Comerica Park to drop the three-game series.
“You just got to turn the page,” third baseman Jeimer Candelario said.
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The Tigers (1-2) scored their one run on two hits and two walks.
They also had two throwing errors, including a lazy throw from shortstop Javier Báez that pulled first baseman Spencer Torkelson off the bag in the fourth inning. The mistake from Báez, who signed a six-year, $140 million contract this offseason, led to the White Sox’s fourth run.
Skubal allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and one walk with three strikeouts across four innings.
“There’s no good way to describe a loss,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ll flush this one and get to Boston (Monday-Wednesday at Comerica Park). I’m not going to obsess over it, other than we obviously need to address a few things. It got a little bit ugly, but losing 2-1 would have been ugly, too.”
Anything but 7th heaven
Facing righty reliever Elvin Rodriguez, who was making his MLB debut in the seventh inning, the White Sox broke open the game with Eloy Jimenez’s RBI single and Andrew Vaughn’s three-run home run.
Rodriguez tossed scoreless fifth and sixth innings, but the 24-year-old was crushed upon returning for his third inning of work to face the heart of Chicago’s order for a second time.
“We need innings,” Hinch said. “Elvin did a good job. The line is not going to do him justice. I thought he threw the ball well. He was calm and had a good fastball, and he was in total control of the innings that he had. One bad pitch to Vaughn changed the entire line score. That’s not his fault.”
He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 2⅔ innings.
“For it being my first time here, I tried to execute my pitches, and I did,” Rodriguez said, with Tigers bilingual media coordinator Carlos Guillen interpreting. “I performed well that way. My fastball and my slider, both of them were very good today.”
V is for Victor
The Tigers scored their lone run in the second inning, when Miguel Cabrera drew a one-out walk and Victor Reyes — in his first plate appearance of the season — drilled a ninth-pitch fastball from White Sox starter Michael Kopech.
The two-out hit from Reyes, with a 109 mph exit velocity, soared into the right-center field gap and scored Cabrera. Torkelson followed with a four-pitch walk to put runners on the corners, but Tucker Barnhart flied out to center for the third out.
Other than that inning, the Tigers were shut down by the White Sox.
Kopech allowed one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in four innings. The bullpen continued his dominance through the seventh, with three perfect innings from Kyle Crick, Matt Foster and Kendall Graveman.
White Sox left-hander Tanner Banks, making his MLB debut, walked Reyes to open the eighth inning, giving the Tigers their first baserunner since Torkelson’s two-out walk in the second.
The return of Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson, who sat out the first two games due to a suspension, made an immediate impact; the All-Star started the game by punching Skubal’s first-pitch fastball to left for a double.
Then, Luis Robert singled to put runners at the corners. Jose Abreu (groundout) and Jimenez (sacrifice fly) notched the RBIs for a 2-0 White Sox lead in the first inning. The White Sox finished with a 93.8 mph average exit velocity against the Tigers’ No. 3 starter.
“I just didn’t really ever find a good rhythm,” Skubal said. “I wasn’t putting the fastball where I wanted to. Changeup command wasn’t very good, either. I didn’t really have a feel for much today.”
Skubal struck out three batters in the second: Josh Harrison (looking, 82.1 mph changeup), Reese McGuire (looking, 95.6 mph sinker) and Danny Mendick (swinging, 95.6 mph four-seamer).
But Anderson came back to the plate in the third, hitting a leadoff single. Abreu doubled him home, then Harrison singled in Abreu for a 4-1 lead. In the fourth, Mendick’s double made it 5-1, but Skubal wasn’t charged with an earned run because of Báez’s error.
Anderson is 7-for-14 (.500) with five doubles, one walk and three strikeouts against Skubal in his career. He had a .389 batting average in 17 games against the Tigers last season.
“He’s as dangerous as any leadoff hitter in baseball,” Hinch said. “It’s not easy to keep control of him at the plate or on the bases. There’s a reason he’s leading off, and that’s one of the better teams in the American League. Getting their spark-plug back changes their lineup.”
For Skubal’s 79 pitches (50 strikes), he used 37 four-seam fastballs (47%), 22 changeups (28%), seven curveballs (9%), seven sinkers (9%) and six sliders (8%). He practically ditched his slider for a fastball-changeup heavy mix.
“It looked like a funky pitch usage,” Hinch said. “A lot of changeups, not many breaking balls. The ones he did throw got hit a little bit. He had to work inning after inning, not being able to complete at-bats against a good offense.”
Skubal recorded nine swings and misses: four four-seamers, three changeups, one curveball and one slider. He also had 10 called strikes, including four four-seamers and three changeups.
His fastball averaged 93.6 mph.
“Looking back, I probably should have thrown (the slider) more,” Skubal said. “Hindsight is 20/20. But if I execute those changeups, because that’s a pitch I really wanted to throw today, it’s probably different.”