The Detroit Tigers returned home this weekend after a 6-game road trip in Cleveland and Pittsburgh where the team went 5-1, pushing their overall record to 8-1. On Friday, they got a first look at the Chicago White Sox, who by many are considered to be not only the most improved teams from this past off-season, but a legitimate threat to dethrone the Tigers from atop the AL Central division. The Sox added a plethora of new players to their team, including starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, outfielder Melky Cabrera, first baseman Adam LaRoche, and relievers Zach Duke and David Robertson. They will play a big role in 2015 in what is a deeper and more competitive AL Central . This weekend belongs to the Tigers, as they were able to take two of three from Chicago.
Game 1: Detroit 2, Chicago 1
WP: Joakim Soria (1-0)
LP: Zach Duke (1-1)
The pitching match-up was as good as advertised for Friday’s game, as Samardzija (0-1, 4.29 ERA) opposed Tigers ace David Price (1-0, 0.40 ERA). Samardzija had given up nine earned runs in his first two starts of 2015, but quickly turned that around on Friday. He pitched eight strong innings, giving up only eight hits, one earned run and striking out seven batters.
David Price was matching him pitch for pitch all afternoon on Friday. He too went eight innings, giving up four hits, two walks, and one earned run. He struck out nine White Sox hitters.
Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless ninth inning to give Detroit a chance to win it in dramatic fashion. Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos hit a double to lead off the bottom half of the inning. Utility man Andrew Romine came in to pinch run for Castellanos and advanced to third on a sacrifice from catcher Alex Avila. After being down in an 0-2 count, shortstop Jose Iglesias hit one into center field for a walk-off victory.
Game 2: White Sox 12, Tigers 3
WP: Chris Sale (2-0)
LP: Anibal Sanchez (1-2)
The second game of the series featured an equally appealing pitching duel just like game one. Unfortunately for Detroit, it did not go in their favor at all Saturday afternoon. Two things happened: 1) The White Sox bats caught fire, and 2) Chris Sale (2-0, 2.25 ERA) is, well……he’s Chris Sale.
The Tigers got out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning courtesy of a Miguel Cabrera RBI single. After that base knock from the birthday boy, it was all Chicago the rest of the way.
The White Sox bats exploded for 11 runs in the 3rd and 4th innings, including a 3-run home run from Adam LaRoche and a grand slam from reigning AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu. Melky Cabrera was Chicago’s best hitter all afternoon, going 4-for-5 with two runs batted in and two runs scored.
Anibal Sanchez (1-2, 7.71 ERA) could not make it through the 4th inning on Saturday, surrendering a career-high nine earned runs to Chicago. Sanchez gave up two home runs in his 3 1/3 innings of work. He has now given up more home runs this year (5) than he did all of last year (4).
Game 3: Tigers 9, White Sox 1
WP: Shane Greene (3-0)
LP: Jose Quintana (1-1)
The roles were reversed on Sunday after Saturday’s beat down from Chicago. The Detroit bats awoke again, putting up a 9-spot on White Sox starter Jose Quintana (1-1, 8.40 ERA). Quintana threw 93 pitches through just four innings of work, including 42 pitches in the 1st inning.
One thing is for sure, Quintana is not going to enjoy seeing Yoenis Cespedes come to plate for the rest of his career. Cespedes went 2-for-2 with two home runs, including one grand slam, and six runs batted in against Jose Quintana on the afternoon. His 1st inning grand slam blew the game open for Detroit early, as Quintana could not capitalize on 2-strike counts against Tigers hitters.
The Tigers banged out another twelve hits on Sunday, everybody in the lineup recorded at least one hit, with the exception of right fielder J.D. Martinez. Catcher Alex Avila, who did not start the last two days because of a left-hander on the mound for Chicago, flew out deep to right center in a pinch hitting role on Sunday.
Shane Greene (3-0, 0.39 ERA) put on another spectacular showing on Sunday for Detroit. In seven innings of work, he gave up just five hits and one earned run. That run was the first earned run he had given up so far this season, snapping a 21 2/3 scoreless innings streak for Greene. He walked four and struck out three on Sunday as well.
Tigers three stars of the series
1. Yoenis Cespedes: .272 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI
2. David Price: 8 IP, 9 K, 1 ER
3. Shane Greene: 7 IP, 3 K, 1 ER