The Detroit Tigers passed the baton and separated the gap in the seventh inning.
Four singles and a Javier Báez three-run homer run were responsible for the four-run inning. The Tigers came out on top again, 7-2, against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday in the second of three games at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Tigers (59-92) have won four of their past five games. They can sweep the series with a victory Sunday.
Left-hander Jake Diekman, who entered for the White Sox in a 3-2 deficit, allowed a single to Tucker Barnhart, a bunt single to Akil Baddoo and an RBI single to Riley Greene. Báez hammered an elevated fastball to right-center field for his team-leading 15th home run, driving in three runs and extending the Tigers’ margin to 7-2.
Báez pimped the homer by watching the ball carry over the fence from the batter’s box. He held his hand to his ear while jogging down the first-base line and stretched his arms in a flying motion on his way to second base. Upon crossing home plate, he asked for attention and taunted the crowd in Chicago.
“They love, hate him,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters in Chicago. “They boo him, then they run down the dugout to try to get a picture with him. I’m not buying all the boos. They love Javy here in Chicago, obviously his background here. He loves the motivation. He’s incredible.”
Harold Castro followed with a single to chase Diekman, who allowed four runs on five hits and failed to record an out in the seventh. Right-hander Jose Ruiz retired the next three batters in order: Miguel Cabrera, Spencer Torkelson and Willi Castro.
The Tigers finished with 14 hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. Four batters posted multi-hit performances. Greene went 3-for-5 with one RBI; Báez, 3-for-5 with three RBIs; Harold Castro, 3-for-5 with three RBIs; and Candelario, 2-for-4.
The White Sox, meanwhile, were held to five hits and two walks.
For the second straight game, the Tigers posted two runs in the first inning. This time, they were matched up with right-hander Davis Martin. In his most recent outing, the 25-year-old pitched six innings of one-run ball Sept. 17 at Comerica Park.
A leadoff single from Greene put the Tigers in business from the beginning; Báez beat out a double-play attempt to keep a runner on base.
Harold Castro, who entered Saturday in a 1-for-24 stretch, attacked a first-pitch fastball at the top of the strike zone. He put the Tigers ahead 2-0 with his career-high seventh home run, a two-run blast.
“It’s been a struggle for him,” Hinch said. “His last month has been his worst month. He’s continued to have to try to push through it. His playing time has got cut into with some of the younger kids coming up here. I think that’s frustrated him a little bit.”
The Tigers didn’t score again until the fifth inning, when Greene singled and Báez advanced him to third base. Báez hit the ball to right and tried stretching a single into a double. He was thrown out at second base, but in the process, Greene moved up to the hot corner.
Harold Castro, again, provided the Tigers with the lead. He hit a fastball to left field, and the ball dropped just inside the foul line. It hung in the air long enough for Greene to score easily for a 3-2 advantage.
“The pull-side power has been a little bit more evident this year,” Hinch said, “but the base hit down the left-field line with the score tied is just as important.”
Martin conceded three runs on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings.
Win, lose or Drew
Right-hander Drew Hutchison, despite some trouble, carried the Tigers through five innings. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks with one strikeout, throwing 47 of 77 pitches for strikes.
The White Sox tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth inning with back-to-back home runs from Eloy Jimenez and Gavin Sheets on back-to-back pitches. Jimenez launched an inside sinker to left and Sheets blasted a hanging slider to right.
“He needed to keep it where it was, especially as they started to chip away,” Hinch said. “A veteran guy, he’s not going to cave or concede. … He kept us in a position to win.”
Hutchison escaped further damage in the fourth and retired all three batters in the fifth — Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu and Jimenez — to conclude his outing. He used 29 four-seam fastballs (38%), 23 sliders (30%), 13 sinkers (17%) and 12 changeups (16%), generating six swings and misses and 15 called strikes.
Right-handed relievers Alex Lange and Will Vest kept the White Sox scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings. Righty Garrett Hill did the same in the eighth and ninth innings, sending down six of seven batters. His only blemish: He walked Mark Payton on six pitches with two outs in the ninth.