Slam by Chicago White Sox keeps Detroit Tigers on pace for 100 losses with 11-5 defeat

Detroit Free Press

Drew Hutchison missed the strike zone on four straight pitches, walked in a run and exited his start with two outs in the fifth inning. His replacement, reliever Jason Foley, hung a two-strike slider to a power hitter, resulting in a grand slam.

“I walked in a run and left the bases loaded,” Hutchison said. “Obviously, you’re not trying to do that.”

Those mistakes led to five runs for the Chicago White Sox in the fifth, as the Detroit Tigers lost, 11-5, in Sunday’s series finale at Comerica Park. Javier Báez launched his team-leading 14th home run in the eighth inning. After winning the first game of the three-game set this weekend, the Tigers (55-91) lost the next two.

Detroit is on pace for 101 losses with 16 games remaining.

“The homers are one thing, but putting guys on base in front of dangerous hitters is a bad recipe, too,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.

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Hutchison, a right-hander making his 16th start this season, allowed two runs early but posted back-to-back scoreless innings in the third and fourth. The Tigers wanted him to complete the fifth inning.

In the fifth, though, the White Sox had runners on first and second with two outs. A double steal advanced both runners into scoring position, and Hutchison walked Eloy Jimenez on six pitches — after getting ahead 1-2 in the count — to load the bases and spark a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter. But Hutchison then walked Gavin Sheets on four pitches, handing a 3-2 lead to the White Sox.

“Middle-middle sounds really great when you need to throw strikes until they put the ball in play,” Hinch said. “There’s a fine line between pitching aggressively but also giving yourself a chance to get out of that inning. That inning started building and building and building, and it obviously exploded.”

The Tigers turned to Foley with the bases loaded.

Andrew Vaughn fell behind in the count but didn’t miss when a sixth-pitch slider failed to break toward the bottom of the strike zone. Vaughn, the No. 3 overall pick in 2019, crushed the ball at the top of the zone 418 feet to left-center and collected the first grand slam of his career, as well as his 17th home run this year, to give the Sox a 7-2 advantage.

The other Hutch

Two-out troubles hindered Hutchison in the first inning, too.

The White Sox recorded three consecutive two-out singles in Hutchison’s 24-pitch first inning: Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez and Sheets. Sheets cranked a line drive past third baseman Jeimer Candelario and into left field for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead.

“After that, I thought I got in a good groove and just lost it at the end,” Hutchison said.

That lead didn’t last long.

Riley Greene, the Tigers’ rookie leadoff hitter, took a four-pitch walk in the bottom of the first inning. Willi Castro followed by cranking a two-strike curveball from righty Vince Velasquez to right-center for a two-run home run. The Tigers went ahead, 2-1, on Castro’s seventh homer this season.

In the second inning, the White Sox tied the game on AJ Pollock’s solo home run.

Hutchison allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 4⅔ innings, throwing 51 of 81 pitches for strikes. He used 43 sliders (53%), 29 four-seam fastballs (36%), five changeups (6%) and four sinkers (5%). With those pitches, Hutchison generated 14 swings and misses: nine sliders, three fastballs and two changeups.

“I thought he rebounded quite well, and then just lost his aggressiveness in the zone and they didn’t chase as much as the game went on,” Hinch said. “He had a hard time finishing some at-bats.”

It ain’t grand

Down five, the Tigers juiced the bases in the sixth inning: Willi Castro walked on five pitches, Báez singled with two strikes and Spencer Torkelson walked on five pitches. The White Sox replaced right-handed reliever Jose Ruiz with righty Jimmy Lambert.

Lambert walked Kerry Carpenter on four pitches, giving the Tigers their third run, but then retired the next three batters. Candelario, though, managed a sacrifice fly to score Báez and cut the Tigers’ deficit to 7-4.

The White Sox continued to haunt the Tigers in the seventh.

Jimenez blasted a 450-foot two-run home run to left-center field off right-hander Garrett Hill’s changeup. With two outs, Seby Zavala chipped in an RBI single for a 10-4 margin. Hill allowed three runs on three hits and two walks with three strikeouts over two innings.

In the eighth, left-hander Andrew Chafin faced Abreu with two outs. Abreu reached safely on a fielding error by second baseman Harold Castro, and Jimenez doubled off the right-field wall to drive in Abreu and make it 11-4.

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