The White Sox really only needed to drag out one win from this high-tension series with Detroit to stay somewhat comfortably ahead. Even bad teams can muster up winning efforts one out of three times, but such adages don't apply to games like Saturday night.
There was nothing of note coming from the vistors' dugout, White Sox failures ran the gamut.
- Trainwreck Francisco - Liriano's hardly resembled a modified and streamlined version of himself since coming to Chicago, but this wasn't even an evening where he beat the odds and succeeded in spite of control problems. He walked an amazing seven batters through four innings, and even if the reprecussions could have been worse (three runs), it was a disastrous outing that had to be managed around.
- Nonexistent offense - The lineup was missing Adam Dunn, but I'm pretty sure a donkey-less pasture can't be blamed for Youkilis, Pierzynski, Konerko, and Rios going 1 for 16 with seven strikeouts. Dunn's replacement, Dan Johnson, got on base as many times as those four combined.
- Disinterested strategy - Jim Margalus has been beating the drum for more bunt attempts to test Miguel Cabrera's wounded ankle at 3rd base, and none came Saturday. It's one thing for the Sox to leave the avenue unexplored, it's another to stand completely pat while the lineup strings together feeble at-bats versus Max Scherzer. Having Liriano re-enter the 5th read as blind faith as well.
It was truly remarkable that Liriano allowed triples to characters like Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young, but the sheer glut of baserunners made his demise inevitable. For good measure, Addison Reed and Jesse Crain managed to be the worst performers of a night where the bullpen was emptied, and each allowed a run. But it's immaterial, the events are predictable when the elements for competitiveness aren't there.
Tigers 5, White Sox 1
Dewayne Wise - 2 for 3, BB, K - Nice game, Dewayne! Too bad you're alone here.
Francisco Liriano - 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 5 K, 100 pitches - Missing bats, missing spots, missing mechanics or a semblance of control, missing everything!
Max Scherzer - 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K, 113 pitches - Always a chance he has some sort of freaky friday situation with Verlander going on.
Once Francisco Liriano had allowed an RBI triple to Brennan Boesch--who came into the game with an OPS under .600 against lefties--for Detroit's first runs in a game where the White Sox were clueless against Scherzer's slider, the game was pretty much a dead skunk in the middle of the road.
Things Would Be Different If...
....the White Sox had refused to play anyone making the league minimum--they would have still walked eight and allowed four runs, but they also would have been no-hit until the 9th inning!
I'm a firm believer in games not being must-win games until they're actually must-win games, so Sunday is simply a game it would be really, really, really, really good to win. The White Sox only needed one measely win to escape Detroit with a multi-game lead, and now the task falls upon the lanky arm of Chris Sale. He'll need to outperform a man probably his better while shaking off the velocity anxiety of Tuesday.
The extra difficulties of having a lifeless offense that's unlikely to feature Dunn behind him and fronting a team that hasn't beaten Detroit since May will really challenge Sale, but that's the lack of margin of error awful nights like Saturday create.
Team Record: 72-60, 1 game up