After the White Sox were swept out of Anaheim over the weekend, the stage has been set for them to turn things around in a big fashion as they host the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers for a four-game set. The south siders started off the series on the right foot Monday night against Rick Porcello and company.
Coming into the game, Porcello had dominated the Sox over the past few seasons. Frankly, he’d put himself into a class with Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie as underwhelming, Sox-killing starters. But the 25 year old just was not as sharp as we’ve come to expect this time out.
White Sox hurler Hector Noesi picked up where he left off, starting the ball game with three scoreless innings, as he settled in quite comfortably with an early lead.
In the bottom of the first, Adam Eaton tripled out of the leadoff spot. Gordon Beckham followed him up with an RBI single to put the good guys on top. Gordon just continues to smack the ball all over the ballpark, and Eaton continues to look a bit more comfortable at the plate, building off of a good weekend series that seemed to break him out of what had been a pretty horrific slump.
The Sox added to their lead in the third, but missed out on a great opportunity to put up a crooked number. Tyler Flowers led off with a walk, Gordon Beckham doubled him to third and Conor Gillaspie singled Tyler home. But with one out and runners on the corners, Jose Abreu stepped to the plate, swung at the first pitch and grounded into a rally-killing double play. More on him in a second …
Detroit tied the ball game over the next two frames with a solo homer in each inning, one off the bat of Miguel Cabrera and the next from Eugenio Suarez. Noesi remained in control for the most part, but he made a few mistakes and the Tigers did something they do very well in capitalizing and pouncing on mistakes with great frequency.
The White Sox were able to put Noesi back in the lead in the bottom of the fifth immediately after the game was knotted at two apiece. Gillaspie notched his second RBI single of the contest ahead of a two-run homer off the bat of Jose Abreu, his 18th of his rookie season.
Gillaspie is now hitting .353/.404/.458. That average is good for third best in all of baseball amongst players with at least 150 plate appearances.
A Victor Martinez two-run bomb got the Tigers back within a run in the top of the sixth, and a few batters later Noesi was chased. His final line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Overall it was a solid start for Hector, as it can be awfully tough to keep Detroit totally in check. You always have to minimize the big mistakes, and when you’re facing an offense as good as theirs, you’ve gotta at least keep ’em down in the zone.
Luckily, the south siders’ bullpen continued to be stout, helping Noesi pick up his second victory in as many tries after failing to do so over 14 straight starts. Scott Downs got the team out of a jam in the sixth, Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam combined to get the club through the 7th and 8th, and closer Ronald Belisario held off the Tigers for the save in the ninth despite things getting way too interesting.
Moises Sierra, who had recently entered the game as a defensive replacement in right for Dayan Viciedo, lost a ball in the lights off the bat of Austin Jackson, resulting in a leadoff double. Alejandro De Aza then misplayed one in left that went off the wall, scored Jackson and getting Detroit within one run.
Though neither play was ruled as an error, both are plays that should be made at least nine times out of ten. That’s not to say that either were simple plays, but when you get paid to catch a baseball, that’s what you have to do.
Belisario bailed them both out, retiring the next three hitters to lock up a White Sox 6-5 victory.
Photo Credit: Jeff Haynes, AP Photo