Detroit Tigers wipe out Chicago White Sox, 7-2, behind Alex Faedo’s 10 strikeouts

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers returned to Comerica Park from a six-game, two-city roadtrip and couldn’t have asked for a better start to a four-game series against an American League Central foe.

The offense was slow to start — stranding too many base runners again — before chasing Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who walked a whopping seven batters, with four runs in the fourth inning. The breakthrough frame led to a 7-2 win in Thursday’s series opener.

“We forced him into the (strike) zone and he couldn’t find it,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “The bigger that the moments became, the more disciplined we became, which is a good characteristic if we can continue to do that.”

The Tigers, posting 10 hits and 11 walks, still finished 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 runners. Leadoff hitter Zach McKinstry went 0-for-1 with three walks and a hit-by-pitch; the top four batters in the lineup combined for five hits and seven walks.

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Giolito, in his 20th career start against the Tigers, struggled to throw strikes and couldn’t complete the fourth inning, which began with Akil Baddoo turning on an inside slider for a 404-foot solo home run to right.

His second homer in seven games tied the game, 1-1, to jumpstart the big inning.

The Tigers (23-25) didn’t stop there, as Miguel Cabrera walked, Eric Haase doubled and McKinstry walked to load the bases with one out. Javier Báez drove in two runs with a single to center field for a 3-1 lead, and Spencer Torkelson extended the lead to 4-1 with another single to center field.

“It’s funny what a simple single does to the scoreboard sometimes,” Hinch said.

That’s when Giolito was replaced by right-handed reliever Gregory Santos. He allowed four runs on six hits and seven walks with four strikeouts across 3⅔ innings, throwing 49 of 89 pitches for strikes.

“We just tried to get him up and push him up in the zone,” McKinstry said. “That changeup always stays down, so we spit on that. The curveball is like 6% in the zone, so we just hunted fastballs up in the zone and did well.”

Giolito, who received AL Cy Young votes in three of the past four seasons (2019-21), walked seven batters in a start for the first time since April 21, 2018, against the Houston Astros.

The Tigers could have chased him earlier in the game, but they stranded runners on the corners in the second inning and the bases loaded in the third inning. Matt Vierling’s lineout in the infield ended the third because Riley Greene was doubled up at second base.

Giolito struck out three batters (with one walk) in the first inning.

Alex the great

Right-hander Alex Faedo exemplified what can happen when a pitcher throws strikes and attacks hitters.

“He was incredible,” Hinch said.

Faedo racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts without conceding a walk. The 27-year-old has one walk and 22 strikeouts across 21⅔ innings over four starts this season. This outing, though, was the best of his 16-start career in the big leagues.

“I don’t know if I attacked differently,” Faedo said. “I thought my fastball had good carry on it, so I think when you can pitch off your heater, and you’re getting some swings and misses and takes on it, you’re able to use your pitches differently. I thought the breaking ball was a little better. I threw a couple right-on-right changeups. So I guess it was a little different.”

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Faedo struck out three batters in the fifth: Jake Burger (swinging strike, 93.2 mph fastball), Romy Gonzalez (called strike, 93.9 mph fastball) and Seby Zavala (called strike, 83.1 mph slider).

Before those three strikeouts, Gavin Sheets hit Faedo’s sixth-pitch fastball for a solo home run down the right-field line, cutting the Tigers’ lead to two runs. In that at-bat, Faedo fell behind 3-0 in the count before battling back to run the count full.

The homer cut the Tigers’ lead to 4-2.

“Bippity boppity boo,” Faedo said. “That’s what I was thinking after the home run. Besides that, I got to 3-0, worked it back to 3-2, and I didn’t want to walk the leadoff guy after we scored runs. I grooved him a heater, and he hit a home run with it, but I got locked back in after that.”

The White Sox also scored first in the third inning. A leadoff single from Burger — and the first stolen base of his career after back-to-back strikeouts from Gonzalez and Zavala — allowed Tim Anderson to put the White Sox ahead, 1-0, with a bloop single to right field.

The three hits against Faedo came from Burger, Anderson and Sheets.

Faedo allowed two runs on three hits with zero walks and 10 strikeouts in six innings, throwing 59 of 94 pitches for strikes. He generated 18 whiffs: five four-seam fastballs, 11 sliders and two changeups.

“I think some of his swing and misses that were in the zone to out of the zone are really important to highlight,” Hinch said. “Those are aggressive pitches. He’s getting himself into counts where he can expand the zone, or expand the plate, and pitch to less hittable pitches and not just focus middle-middle.”

Burning through Chicago’s ‘pen

The Tigers increased their lead to 5-2 in the sixth inning when Greene plated McKinstry with a line-drive single to center field off left-handed reliever Garrett Crochet, the second pitcher out of the White Sox’s bullpen.

In the sixth, the Tigers stranded the bases loaded again.

The constant pressure from the Tigers’ offense forced the White Sox to use three relievers in the first game of the series. That could pay off for the Tigers in the next couple games.

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The Tigers called on three right-handed relievers: Jose Cisnero in the seventh inning, Jason Foley in the eighth inning and Mason Englert in the ninth inning. None of them faced a serious challenge as they combined for three scoreless innings.

Zack Short increased the Tigers’ lead to 7-2 in the eighth inning with a two-run single off left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer, scoring Greene (single) and Torkelson (single). Crochet threw 41 pitches, while Bummer tossed 27 pitches.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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