Chicago — Three home runs in a win, and there’s praise for a team’s power.
Three home runs in a loss, however, and there’s the question of how the heck it happened.
Here’s how the Tigers lost 6-5 on Monday night to the Chicago White Sox: By throwing a bunt away for an unearned run.
By leaving the tying run at third with one out when the Sox had given the Tigers a golden chance to pull even in the ninth.
And by getting the kind of game from Rick Porcello that’s hard to overcome — not the kind of start that’s been typical of his season.
First of all, the error on the bunt that led to Chicago’s final run.
It happened in the sixth on Alejandro De Aza’s leadoff single — and as soon as Porcello threw it, he knew he shouldn’t have. In fact, he knew it before he threw it, because he’s a pitcher who fields his position well, but in his eagerness, he heaved it all the same.
“When I threw it, I was saying some words to myself I can’t say to you now,” Porcello said after the game. “We could still be playing if I hadn’t thrown it.
“What’s so frustrating about it is that was a play on which I just didn’t think and airmailed it. I deserved to come out (which he did) after a play like that.”
With the Sox leading 5-4, De Aza took second on the error, then scored with one out on Adam Eaton’s single off Corey Knebel.
The Tigers made a run at the Sox in the ninth, though, getting consecutive doubles on consecutive less-than-stellar plays in the White Sox outfield.
With no outs in the ninth, they trailed by a run with pinch-runner Rajai Davis on second.
Davis took third on a fly ball to deep-enough-to-do-so center by Eugenio Suarez, who earlier had hit his second home run.
With Davis at third, though, Ian Kinsler took a called third strike that Kinsler didn’t consider to be a strike — followed by a grounder to third by pinch-hitter Torii Hunter to end the game.
And with that, a promising inning for the Tigers ended in disappointment — as did a game in which Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez hit home runs in addition to Suarez.
“I squawked that I thought the pitch was up,” manager Brad Ausmus said of strike three to Kinsler. “I haven’t seen the replay, so I can’t tell you definitively where it was.
“But it was obviously a huge pitch because anything to the outfield probably scores (Davis).”
Kinsler didn’t spend much time disputing the third strike, but “he has body language that you can tell when he’s not happy with the call,” Ausmus said.
As for the game by Porcello, “When he has trouble getting the ball down, that’s when he gets hit,” Ausmus said.
Among the nine hits off Porcello (8-4) in his five-plus innings was Jose Abreu’s 18th home run, which was the big blow of Chicago’s three-run fifth that gave it a 5-2 lead.
It was from that deficit the Tigers fought back, initially with Martinez’s 15th home run with Cabrera on first in the top of the sixth.
Cabrera’s home run in the fourth, his 12th, off winning pitcher Hector Noesi (2-4) was a mammoth blast to left. He played the game as the Tigers’ designated hitter, and said he didn’t feel his hamstring tightening again until late in the game.
If need be, Cabrera will be the Tigers DH again Tuesday night, but it doesn’t appear he will miss any games.
The game kicked off a stretch of 14 in a row for the Tigers against the American League Central.
“Any time you play your division, it’s important,” Ausmus said. “Teams that play well in their division usually do well in their division. These are big games, but you’d be hard-pressed to get me to call it a do-or-die series.”
Because it isn’t.
But the Tigers still didn’t do what they wanted to do.
Tigers at White Sox
First pitch: 8:10 tonight, U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
TV/radio: FSD/97.1, 1270
RHP Justin Verlander (6-5, 4.19 ERA), Tigers: Manager Brad Ausmus said Verlander’s stuff in his last two starts has been his best all year. But in his last two, he’s allowed three home runs, the same number he gave up in his first 11 starts
LHP John Danks (4-5, 4.32), White Sox: Has had two really bad road starts, but has been steady all year at home with a 3.03 ERA in six starts.