Detroit – With the way Alex Faedo was pitching on Thursday night, not even allowing a home run on a 3-2 fastball could slow down the Tigers’ right-hander.
“Bippity, boppity, boo,” Faedo said with a smile after the Tigers dispatched the Chicago White Sox, 7-2, in the first of a four-game series at Comerica Park. “That’s what I was thinking after that home run.”
In other words, Faedo wasn’t sweating the one mistake. And why would he?
While his teammates were providing timely hitting and taking advantage of 11 walks issued by White Sox pitchers, Faedo was busy keeping Chicago’s pitchers off balance, finishing with a career-high 10 strikeouts while giving up just three hits and not walking a batter over six innings of work.
It was Faedo’s fourth start since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo and after flashes of impressive pitching in his last two outings, it all came together to help the Tigers (23-25) cruise to a victory in front of 15,003 at Comerica Park.
“He was incredible,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “I think from the get-go he had pretty good (velocity), pretty good slider, mixed in some changes late. He was attacking these guys and got them to chase counts and executed some chase pitches to get his punch outs. He finished strong.
“He hasn’t pitched that deep in a game very often for a lot of reasons but clearing that hurdle and setting up the rest of the bullpen was huge and finishing the way he did with a couple of strikeouts and the emotion at the end, I thought he did a good job of maturing tonight.”
The White Sox manufactured a single run in the third and got a home run down the right-field line from Gavin Sheets in the fifth, but Faedo was never truly in trouble, keeping the White Sox at bay until the Tigers’ bats got going with four runs in the fourth to break the game open and pull within two games of .500.
“I try my best to just attack the zone,” Faedo said. “Sometimes it’ll bite you like the 3-2 homer, but I think more often than not, you’re trying to attack them, keep them in leverage counts, and hopefully I can stay with that.”
He had no problem sticking with it against the White Sox, providing plenty of opportunity for the Tigers’ bats to do their part.
Akil Baddoo had a pair of hits for Detroit, including a solo homer to lead off the four-run fourth inning. Javier Báez had a two-run single in the fourth while Spencer Torkelson had a pair of hits, including an RBI single. Riley Greene added two singles, getting his own RBI single in the sixth as he has now hit safely in 21 of the last 25 games.
Zack Short, who drove in three on Wednesday in a pinch-hitting role in Kansas City, added a single in the eighth that drove in two to cap the Detroit scoring. Jose Cisnero, Jason Foley and Mason Englert each pitched a scoreless inning to close things out for the Tigers.
Chicago’s pitchers struggled to throw strikes as starter Lucas Giolito lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and walking seven. After Gregory Santos got four straight outs in relief, Garrett Crochet came on and walked four more batters in 1 2/3 innings of work.
“We forced him into the zone and he couldn’t find it,” Hinch said of Giolito. “I think the bigger that moments became the more disciplined we became, which is a good characteristic and we can continue to do that. We put pressure on him. We had other opportunities. We had one base-running error and we had a couple of near misses, a couple of bullets that didn’t go our way or the night could have gotten even better for us.
“But getting him out of the game when we did in the way that we did conducting our bats – it’s obviously nice to see Akil jump and the slider and get the homer and Tork with the finishing touch on the base hit. But it’s the at-bats in between that I think we’re very professional.”
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to put pressure on the White Sox pitchers as Matt Vierling led off the second inning with a line-drive single to left and advanced to second on Baddoo’s infield single.
With runners on first and second with nobody out, Miguel Cabrera got behind in the count, 0-2, but lined a pitch that appeared to be headed for right-center field. But White Sox second baseman Romy Gonzalez snatched it off the short hop and started the 4-6-3 double play that left Vierling at third with two outs. Eric Haase followed with a walk but the inning ended on a ground out to third by Andy Ibanez.
The White Sox (21-31) got on the board first when Tim Anderson’s two-out single in the top of third scored Jake Burger, who had singled to lead off the inning then stole second. Faedo struck out Gonzalez and Seby Zavala after giving up the single to Burger but Anderson line drive to right plated Burger to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers loaded the bases on the bottom half of the third with one out, but the threat ended when Vierling lined the ball up the middle, right to where Gonzalez was positioned. He snagged the line drive and easily doubled Greene off second after Greene took off, expecting the ball to head to the outfield.
The Tigers were finally able to take advantage of their opportunities in the fourth when Baddoo led off the inning with a solo shot to right to tie the game, 1-1. Cabrera then walked on four pitches and Haase doubled to left. Another walk to Zach McKinstry loaded the bases with one out and Baez cashed in with his line-drive single to center to put the Tigers on top, 3-1.
After Greene struck out looking, Torkelson drilled a single to left-center to score McKinstry and push the lead to 4-1 before Vierling’s ground out to short ended the inning. The White Sox got one back in the top of the fifth when Sheets homered to right to cut the Tigers’ lead to 4-2. But Faedo struck out the next three to end any potential threat.
“We scored those runs and you need to attack,” Faedo said. “I got to 3-0 and worked it back to 3-2 and I didn’t want to walk the leadoff guy after scoring runs like that. I kind of grooved in a heater and he hit a home run with it, but I got locked back in and finished the outing.”
Greene’s line drive to center put the Tigers back up three in the sixth as McKinstry scored to make it 5-2 in favor of the home team. Detroit added two more in the eighth on Short’s base hit to cap a solid offensive outing on a night the pitching was spot on.
“He’s getting himself into counts where he can expand the zone a little bit, expand the plate and pitch to less hittable pitches and not just focus middle-middle,” Hinch said of Faedo. “We had a long inning where it felt like he was sitting over on the bench for a long time and when he went out he wasn’t sharp. He gave up the homer but settled back in. And then not just finishing that inning but going out the next inning should give him a lot of confidence.”