Garrett Hill was sloppy in his second major league start and was rocked early on as the White Sox shut the Tigers streak down at six games with a 8-0 victory on Saturday.
The Tigers started things off with a one-out Victor Reyes single in the first, but no more as Javier Báez grounded into a double play.
Hill wasn’t nearly as bad as his line looked, but a couple key at-bats early decided his fate. With one out, Andrew Vaughn doubled, and Hill fell behind Luis Robert and eventually walked him. That brought up Jose Abrue, who battled Hill through a long at-bat but popped out, and it looked like Hill might escape without any damage. Unfortunately, his command wasn’t sharp and he fell behind 3-0 to Gavin Sheets. The left-hander was swinging 3-0 and Hill obliged with a fastball over the middle. Sheets crushed it for a three-run shot to center field. 3-0 White Sox.
Yoan Moncada followed with another long AB where Hill just couldn’t find a putaway pitch, and finally singled to keep the inning going. Fortunately Seby Zavala lifted a fly ball for the final out of the inning.
The Tigers weren’t able to answer back in the top of the second, and Hill immediately racked up a pair of ground ball outs in the bottom half. But just as it looked like he’d settled in, Tim Anderson lined a double to center field, and Hill then plunked Andrew Vaughn. Robert singled home Anderson, moving Vaughn first to third, and Garrett Hill faced Jose Abreu needing to get out of the inning to keep the game within reach. Abreu won out, smoking a 110 mph line drive over Willi Castro’s head to the wall in right, scoring Vaughn and the speedy Robert. Sheets tapped one back to Hill to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Johnny Cueto, acquired just to fill a hole in a torn up Sox rotation, was pitching like it was 2016. The shimmy and shake were on point, the fastball velocity was good, and Cueto was extremely efficient, pounding the zone while an impatient Tigers’ club collected five singles but barely hit a ball hard against him all afternoon. Cueto ultimately struck out five in eight scoreless innings of work.
To his credit, Garrett Hill did his job and didn’t fold up shop. His pitch count was over 50 after two innings, but he managed to navigate the Sox’ order for three more innings without further trouble. The fastball command was better, and with nothing to lose he attacked the zone pretty aggressively the rest of the way.
Will Vest did not attack the zone very well in the sixth. He racked up three strikeouts, but surrendered a double and a pair of singles as the White Sox made it 7-0, and then wild pitched Leury Garcia home from third to make it 8-0 before striking out Robert to end the inning.
Jason Foley gave up a pair of singles to start the seventh, but was able to pitch out of the jam. Spencer Torkelson doubled to left with two outs in the eighth, but Tucker Barnhart popped out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, with the game out of reach and needing to preserve the bullpen in the early part of this 11 day, 12 game road trip, A.J. Hinch turned to Kody Clemens to handle the Sox. He did so, lollypopping his way to three routine ground ball outs, all to Willi Castro at shortstop after Hinch pulled Báez for a rest, and possibly to avoid the Sox taking liberties with a big lead.
Riley Greene led off the ninth with a single, but that was the Tigers final hit on the game.
The Tigers have locked up a split of the series already. They’ll send Drew Hutchison against Michael Kopech on Sunday afternoon.