With a pitching matchup of Justin Verlander vs. Jake Peavy, scoring opportunities were doomed to be limited in the opener of this crucial divisional showdown.
The early innings were marked with promising offensive work, as the Sox actually had runners to strand, and Alejandro De Aza clubbed a two-run homer in the 3rd to stake Jake Peavy to a lead.
But Justin Verlander was pitching, and was not open to the idea of another White Sox player reaching 2nd base.
Peavy was a bit more generous with his opportunities. In the bottom of the 3rd, he was one out away from pitching around a leadoff double when his second-straight wild attempt to bust Quentin Berry inside nicked the left fielder's jersey. That brought up Detroit's gruesome twosome of Cabrera and Fielder, and brought about the beginning of the end.
It would have been bad enough if Cabrera and Fielder had just recorded back-to-back RBI singles--which they did--but Peavy went ahead grooved a slider that Delmon Young laced to the gap for a go-ahead RBI double, and the Sox didn't sniff the lead again.
Peavy opened the door once more when he balked Jhonny Peralta into scoring position in the 7th, and yielded an RBI single to Austin Jackson for insurance, as his pitch count ambled toward 120. Not that there was really anyone exciting in the bullpen waiting to shut things down for him
The Sox waited all night to get a chance at someone other than Verlander, only to go down 1-2-3 against Valverde in the 9th.
Jake Peavy - 7 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0 HR, 122 pitches - He struck out the first five batters of the game, and got significantly more hittable from there
Justin Verlander - 8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, HR - There was a time in the 4th inning, where Rios walked on a 3-2 count, and A.J. laid off the first curveball he saw, where it looked like his stuff wasn't as sharp as usual. That was not the case.
Alejandro De Aza - 2 for 3, HR, BB, 2 RBI - Nice try, Alejandro
Kevin Youkilis - 0 for 4, 3 K - We know that he is not a fool in real life, but he looked the part
It would be too simple to just say that Peavy barely plunked Quentin Berry and then was pulverized by the middle of the order. It was far more tantalizing than that.
He fell behind both Cabrera and Fielder by wasting a breaker away, only to come back and work full counts to both. Cabrera lined a hanging slider back up the middle for his single, and after getting fooled low and away for strike two, Fielder got just enough of a change up to roll it past a diving Beckham for his. Those two lost battles tied the game.
The go-ahead double to Young that followed was more of the "What was that?" variety.
Things Would Be Different If...
The Sox offense has accounted for all of 12 runs in the last five games, and that's severely skewed by a seven-run outburst. Peavy made key mistakes, but allowing four runs to the Detroit offense is hardly an offense so egregious that no others have blame.
Alejandro De Aza led off the game with a well-earned walk in the 1st, and Alex Rios lined a one-out double in the 2nd. Neither runner moved.
If there was a game the Sox were tabbed to lose in the series, it was certainly this one. But since the Sox made special efforts to save Peavy for this series, it just casts a harsher light on their one-night stand with Pedro Hernandez, which played as much of a part in making Saturday's game a battle for the division lead as this doomed affair.
Team Record: 50-43, .5 games up