After Monday night's festivities, the White Sox allegiance to the home run was a celebrated and revered element of their personality. I would offer that it still should be--building a lineup around power hitters while playing in a band box is a sound strategy.
But the absurd caricature of the approach that the White Sox offered Tuesday will inspire no new supporters. Dewayne Wise ripped a no-doubter solo shot in the 1st inning to make it 1-0, and Gordon Beckham lifted a towering fly ball that just made it into the bullpen to make 2-0 in the 3rd, and that was...
Tigers stater allowed Doug Fister allowed a walk after each blast, but not another hit over seven innings. The dedication to the home run approach is admirable, but the result--pop-ups and feeble swings at looping curves--revealed again that it's possible to want something too much.
The offensive effort wasn't enough to support a nervy Jake Peavy outing. He labored through at-bats, racked up an enormous pitch count, and the deep fly ball outs that ended early-inning threats turned into massive home runs from Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera in the 5th. Unfortunately, Jackson's was a two-run shot, and the Tigers had 3-2 lead.
An impromptu relief appearance from Francisco Liriano in the 8th inning was an immediate disaster--he faced three batters, hit one with the first pitch, allowed two hits, and was eventually credited with two runs when a cache of relievers were done mopping up.
A rally stirred in the 8th when three straights hits from the bottom of the order capped off by Alejandro De Aza produced a run. But the momentum was stifled by two straight miserable strikeouts from Dewayne Wise and Kevin Youkilis, and an ever-so-weak dribbler from Paul Konerko. Youkilis' at-bat, was notably infused with two peculiar and inept bunt attempts. The other two at-bats were also bad, but this was a funny-looking bad.
Tigers 5, White Sox 3
Jake Peavy - 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 2 HR - Effective enough, but not overwhelming enough to cut through the heart of the order three times.
Doug Fister - 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 HR - Biiiiiig curveballs.
Gordon Beckham - 2 for 3, HR - Sometimes, Gordon Beckham being the most effective hitter on the team is because literally everyone was crushing the opposing pitcher. This was one of those other times.
Youkilis-Wise-Konerko - 1 for 10, HR, 5 K, 2 BB - Sometimes when Wise is the most effective middle of the order hitter....
Dueling massive blasts to center field from Jackson and Cabrera could certainly be pointed to as a momentum swing, since the Sox never recovered the lead at any point and it helped stop Peavy from dragging his way to a quality start.
Things Would Be Different If...
A horrid 8th inning prevented the Sox from salvaging this one, and few of the things Robin Ventura could be directly tied to worked out well. He chose a one-run game as the time for Francisco Liriano to make his bullpen debut after a spell of wildness had wrecked his last three starts, even though Matt Thornton was fresh.
It went very poorly.
He had Kevin Youkilis--the owner of zero career sacrifice bunts--try to drop down a sacrifice twice in a row despite being preceded by three straight hits off of Joaquin Benoit. He fouled both off, then swung helplessly at a slider eight feet out of the zone to end the at-bat. Benoit slipping easily back into a groove immediately after getting the out didn't make the decision look any better.
BIG PICTURE: Sox need a split, are still on track for a split. Woo.
SLIGHTLY SMALLER PICTURE: Peavy was shaky, Fister was dominant, it happens. Dang, but there's a game tomorrow.
SMALL PICTURE: The took out their sword in the 8th inning, swung wildly and disembowled themselves. It was frustrating, and hopefully not disastrously costly.
Team Record: 76-65, 2 games up