White Sox pound six home runs, send sinking Tigers to sixth straight defeat 7-2
Chicago — The thing about being on the taxi squad, you face the same players day after day in intrasquad games and live batting practices. It gets monotonous. So Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal has had his fill of trying to get fellow rookie Isaac Paredes out.
“I feel like he never gets fooled,” Skubal said about Paredes, who made his major league debut Monday. “He knows the strike zone so well, it’s incredible. Whenever I faced him in Toledo it was like, I might as well just throw three straight strikes and hope he just hits it at someone.
“There’s no fooling him, no setting him up. He just hits.”
Pretty spot-on assessment. Paredes came to bat in the fourth inning with the bases loaded, two outs and the Tigers down 3-0. He’d grounded out in his first at-bat, shaking off the nerves. This time Paredes battled. He worked the count even, 2-2, and laid off a borderline off-speed pitch from White Sox starter Gio Gonzalez.
He then dunked a 3-2 fastball into left-center for a two-run single. Not a bad story to tell his kids about his first knock in the big leagues.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, that was the lone highlight. The White Sox used six home runs, five solo shots, to beat the Tigers 7-2 at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was the Tigers' sixth straight loss (all to Central Division rivals White Sox and Indians), knocking them two games under .500 (9-11).
Tim Anderson hit two home runs, as he continues to torment Tigers starter Matthew Boyd. Rookie Luis Robert also hit a pair. Yoan Moncada and Danny Mendick also homered. Anderson is now 16 for 43 with three homers off Boyd.
Paredes ended up 1-for- 4. Skubal will make his big-league debut here Tuesday.
"The kid knows how to play," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's a young man (21) but he's played a lot of games in Mexico against talented people. He' s not overwhelmed by any means."
Boyd’s night, mercy, what to make of it?
For the second straight start, both against the White Sox, he gave up solo home runs to the first two batters he faced — Anderson and Moncada. He needed 33 pitches to get through both the first and second innings — with Anderson finishing a nine-pitch battle with his second home run in the second inning.
And yet, eight of the nine outs he recorded in the first three innings were strikeouts. He finished with six straight outs — an 11-pitch third inning and a 13-pitch fourth.
"There was a lot of progress," Boyd said. "I'm not going to sit up here and be all sunshine and rainbows. We lost 7-2 and I gave up three runs. If I went nine innings and gave up three runs and we still lost, then I didn't do my job.
"But there was a lot of progress."
Whether it signifies a breakthrough for Boyd remains to be seen. Needing 90 pitches to get through four innings is a problem. He hasn’t finished five innings in his last three starts, also a problem.
Still, it felt like progress was made. Nine strikeouts in four innings, 16 swings-and-misses, 11 whiffs on 23 swings with his slider. The three homers were the only balls hit hard.
"I know we're not scoring a lot of runs right now," Gardenhire said. "But when we do, we go back out and have a long inning. Boyd's last two innings were OK, but he needed almost 70 pitches to get through two innings and that's a lot of standing around out there and that takes your offense out of it."
Boyd started to mix in his change-up in the third and four innings, too, which seemed to get the White Sox hitters off-balance. He threw eight change-ups in the last two innings and got six swings and three swings-and-misses.
"He didn't use it at all early and we talked about that," Gardenhire said. "Once he started using the change-up he was getting quick outs. You can't just forget about pitches like that. You need to use your arsenal."
The bigger issue is the short starts. Gardenhire had to use his bullpen for five more innings Monday. And on Tuesday, Skubal will be limited to between 50-60 pitches.
"We need better starting pitching to get our bullpen straightened out," Gardenhire said. "We had a good run early in the season and we were able to use them the right way. Right now it's just trying to get through a ballgame, and I hate playing baseball like that."
Rule 5 rookie Rony Garcia gave up two dingers, to Robert (on a hanging slider) and Mendick (on a 94-mph fastball at the top of the strike zone. Robert got right-hander Kyle Funkhouser in the eighth, blasting a two-run shot that traveled 433 feet into the left-field seats.
The Tigers’ hitters, meanwhile, were having trouble putting the ball in play. Gonzalez, though he was pulled after 4⅔ innings, posted 10 strikeouts. Rookie shortstop Willi Castro fanned four times and has a dubious streak of seven straight strikeouts.
JaCoby Jones, moved into the leadoff spot with Niko Goodrum out of the lineup, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.