Instant Rationalization - Sale can't get 3rd outs, White Sox can't stay in 1st place

The one solace the White Sox had after Friday night's Verlander-ing, was that they would at least have pitching mismatches in their favor the next two days.  Going into Saturday, starters Chris Sale and Rick Porcello had a two-and-a-half runs of difference in their ERA...in Sale's favor.

Porcello hasn't faced the Sox since May 6th, but picked up where he left off with the two dominant starts he made against Chicago earlier in the year.  He carried a perfect game through four innings, the only rally the punchless Sox managed off him came on two soft singles in the 5th.  Even when Porcello was pulled in the 9th, he hadn't crack 100 pitches.

Sale appeared capable of matching Porcello blow-for-blow until the Sox gave him that blasted 1-0 lead.  A two-out single by Gerald Laird kick-started a two-run 5th inning response and Austin Jackson capped it with an opposite-field double.  The very next frame, all Sale had to do to escape a two-on, two-out situation was retire a scuffling Brennan Boesch.  Instead, Boesch became the first left-handed batter to take him deep on the season with a three-run shot to the right field bleachers.

With the way the White Sox offense was cooking, that was overkill, but there were two more runs added off of Dylan Axelrod in relief just for good measure

Tigers 7, White Sox 1

Key Performers

Rick Porcello - 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR - At times like these, pretty easy to see why he was a stud prospect

Chris Sale - 7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 BB (1 intentional), 6 K, HR, 90 pitches - Between the low velocity, the grounder off the hand, the trainer visit to the mound, the control problems and the inability to close out innings, it was your perfect 'Worry about Chris Sale' day.

Kevin Youkilis - 0 for 3, 2 K, GIDP - Everyone hit poorly.  He hit the worst.

Boesch, Laird & Worth - 4 for 8, HR, 3 BB, 3 RBI, 4 R - If they're beating you, well, other people are probably beating you too.

Austin Jackson - 2 for 5, 2B, 4 RBI - Too many Tigers listed in the key performers for my liking.

Turning Point

Chris Sale staked to a one-run lead, cruising with two outs in the 5th against the bottom of the order seemed like a pretty nice place to be.

Instead, Gerald Laird turned a fastball into the hole between short and third, Danny Worth dropped a bloop in front of Alex Rios, bringing an actually rather great hitter to the plate in Austin Jackson.

Jackson nailed a hanging slider into the right field gap, and nothing was right again.

Things Would Be Different If...

...If the White Sox were another team.  Rick Porcello has a 4.40 ERA on the year, but now has allowed just three runs in 22 innings against the Sox this season, accounting for three Detroit wins.

Takeaway

It might take more than one hand to count the hitters in the Sox lienup stuck in swan dives during their week-long plummet out of 1st place, and the first two games of this pivotal series have seen the two best Chicago starters wilt in big situations on back-to-back days.

But since caterwauling in sorrow is the expected response to having Rick Porcello shut down the Sox to seal Detroit's ascent, I'll offer this: they're still in playoff position thanks to Bud Selig, and tomorrow's starter for Detroit has an ERA over 10.

 

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