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July 11: White Sox 6 Tigers 3

Going into this series, no one figured the White Sox had much of a chance against the dreaded lineup of the Detroit Tigers.

However, the Sox took the rubber match of the series on Thursday afternoon, giving them the series victory. The Sox used some timely hitting and pitched well to win this one. It’s the first series win for the Sox in Detroit since July of 2011, as since then, the Sox had one just one of their last 13 games in Comerica park.

This was one of the most memorable games of the season for the White Sox, and for reasons other than a victory…

The Almost Brawl

The whole saga started in the bottom of the fifth, as Miguel Cabrera took a 3-2 outside pitch into the right field seats to take a 3-1 Tigers lead. Prince Fielder was up next, and Chris Sale threw the first pitch right up by his chin.

In the top of the sixth, two hitters after a Josh Phegley grand slam to take the lead, reliever Luke Putkonen threw a fastball behind Alexei Ramirez, which he took exception to. Ramirez was restrained by Tigers catcher Brayan Pena before charging the mound, and the benches cleared. After a few minutes of a near-brawl, Putkonen was ejected, warnings were given to both benches, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland was also tossed after arguing with the umpires for long time.

Leyland may have had a point, as typically, you see a warning given to both dugouts before any ejections, allowing one-time retaliation for the team that was thrown at in the first place. While that’s typically the course of action that’s taken with these situations, it’s not set and stone, and is still up to the discretion of the umpire.

Jim Leyland may make us all laugh as baseball fans at times with his cigarettes and wild demeanor, but the one thing he does do very well is protect his players. After Sale’s pitch, you knew the Tigers were going to retaliate, and honestly, rightfully so.

Phegley Mania

Josh Phegley. The man. The myth. The legend?

With his grand slam off of Anibal Sanchez, another high fly ball that just cleared the fence, Phegley now has eight RBI in his five games. To put that in perspective, Tyler Flowers has just 22 RBI in 67 games.  Also, it was his third long ball of the year, and his three home runs have come off of David Price, Matt Garza, and Anibal Sanchez. That’s not a bad resume thus far.

Aside from the grand slam, Phegley actually had a rough series, going 1-for-10 and dropping his average to .200. However, it seems like his clutch hitting as rubbed off on the entire lineup, as the Sox scored 22 runs in the three games. That’s more runs than the Sox have scored in any series this season.

The other two runs for the Sox today came in on an Alexei Ramirez first-inning double (which Alejandro De Aza scored from first on from a perfectly executed hit-and-run), and a De Aza solo shot in the eighth off of Phil Coke.

Sale Finally Wins

It’s about time the Sox gave Chris Sale some run support, as Sale earned his first win since May 17.

Ironically, this was probably Sale’s worst outing in his last four starts. He allowed three runs in 6.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, two walks, and striking out eight. The 10 hits are the most Sale allowed in a start this season.

However, Sale showed why he’s a true ace, as he found a way to keep his team in the ball game while not having his best stuff or control. That’s what separates great pitchers from guys with just great “stuff.”

Alexei Ramirez Leaves Game

After all the dust cleared from the near-brawl, Ramirez stayed in the game and singled amidst thousands of boos from Tiger fans. However, Ramirez had to leave the game immediately after with what appeared to be cramps in his right hamstring. Gordon Beckham finished the game at shortstop.

Ramirez had to get his right leg stretched out earlier in the game by Head Trainer Herm Schneider, so he already was having cramping issues. It appears as if that’s all it is though, as according to MLB.com White Sox beatwriter Scott Merkin’s twitter (@scottmerkin), Ramirez said he “comes to the park ready to play every day,” and is approaching tomorrow no differently.

Both Bullpens Miles Apart

When you look at the White Sox and Tigers on paper, it’s clear that the Tigers are just a better baseball team in most areas. However, that’s certainly not the case in the bullpen.

The Tigers showed again in this game what their Achilles’ heel is: they have a dreadful bullpen. The Sox were able to have seven runners reach base (four hits, three walks) against Detroit’s bullpen in 3.2 innings, while the Sox bullpen of Matt Lindstrom, Matt Thornton, and Addison Reed were dominant.

You do not typically see teams trade within the division, but given the surplus of bullpen arms the Sox are looking to move, the Tigers would be nuts if they did not at least give Rick Hahn a call.

Off to Philly

The Sox will head to the City of Brotherly Love for the last series before the All-Star break: an interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The scheduled starters are John Danks, Hector Santiago, and Jose Quintana for the Sox, while Philly plans to trot Jonathan Pettibone, John Lannan, and Cole Hamels to the bump. Matt Hoeppner will have your series preview here on GSB!