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'Tough night': Sloppy defense costs Tigers in loss

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It is one thing to get beat. It’s quite another to beat yourself.

The Tigers have been doing far too much of the latter recently – the three games in Tampa Bay, where the defense was abysmal, the outfield collision Thursday, and then a three-error night by third baseman Nick Castellanos that doomed the Tigers in a 7-3 loss to the White Sox Friday night.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” said Castellanos, whose two errors on consecutive plays in the eighth inning set up the winning rally. “It (stinks). But what’re going to do about it? It happened. If you dwell on it and think about it, it’s just going to continue to affect you. Tomorrow is a brand-new day.”

It was a 3-3 game in the eighth inning. Castellanos had muffed a soft liner back in the sixth but no damage came of it. Then, after reliever Alex Wilson gave up a leadoff single to Melky Cabrera, he induced back-to-back double-play grounders to Castellanos – and he booted them both, loading the bases.

BOX SCORE: White Sox 7, Tigers 3

“After the first one, I want the next one,” Castellanos said. “I want to get that error behind me. But it was hit (the ball hit by Avisail Garcia) with pretty difficult topspin and I couldn’t come up with it. Now, playing it back (in his mind), I could’ve played it differently.

“But everyone can be a Monday morning quarterback, you know?”

Castellanos was the fifth Tigers' player in the last 20 years to make three errors in a game, per STATS.

Yet, Wilson nearly worked out of it.

He got Matt Davidson to hit another ground ball. This time, shortstop Jose Iglesias made a quick, strong throw to the plate for one out, then catcher Alex Avila threw to first to complete the double play.

With first base open, Yolmer Sanchez was walked intentionally after the count went 2-0, setting up a righty-righty match-up with Geovany Soto. Soto slapped the first pitch into left for a two-run single.

Manager Brad Ausmus came out to talk to Wilson before Sanchez came up.

“I wanted, first of all, to find out if Alex had a preference,” Ausmus said. “And he didn’t. Honestly, neither did I because Alex is as good at getting lefties out as he is righties. So the plan was to attack Sanchez, and if you get behind, don’t just throw a cookie down the middle for him to hit.

“Once he got to 2-0, I just decided a fresh count with a new hitter was the safer route. It ended up not working.”

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson bashed a majestic two-run home off Joe Jimenez in the ninth to seal it. The Tigers have now lost three straight to fall back to .500 at 11-11. More than anything, though, it’s been the defense that’s hurt the club during its 3-7 skid.

“That kind of thing just doesn’t happen very often,” Ausmus said, referring to the three-error night by Castellanos. “Nick has really improved his defense. It was just a tough night for him. I know Nick doesn’t want to let his teammates down. He takes a lot of pride in his defense and he’s really improved it.

“I’ve been there, where you make a mistake and cost your team a run and a game. It hurts but he’ll get past it.”

Omar Vizquel, one of the slickest-fielding infielders to ever play, pulled Castellanos aside between innings.

“Omar came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I’ve had two, two-error games and a three-error game,’” Castellanos said. “He said, ‘Tomorrow is a new day. You’ve been working hard. You’ve made great strides. Just put it behind you.’”

The Tigers had a chance to knock their old friend Mike Pelfrey out of the game in the first inning.

After Justin Upton delivered a two-run single, Pelfrey walked Avila to load the bases with one out. With the White Sox over-shifted to the right, Jim Adduci hit a hard one-hopper to third baseman Todd Frazier, who was playing in the shortstop hole.

He turned it into a fast double play.

“That double play was huge for him,” Castellanos said. “If that gets through that’s two more runs and we’re looking at a 4-0 ballgame. But he held it together well.”

Pelfrey, whom the Tigers released at the end of spring training and are still paying his $8 million salary, settled in, allowing only a single and a walk through the fourth.

The Tigers got to him again in the fifth. Down 3-2, Victor Martinez beat the White Sox shift, drilling an RBI single to left.

"It's always a little weird any time you pitch against former teammates," said Pelfrey, who allowed six hits and four walks in his 4.2 innings. "I just tried to keep my head down and not look at them – not make too much eye contact. No matter where it is, you show up to win games and pitch and turn the page.

"The whole focus here was to help the White Sox tonight."

Meanwhile, his counterpart Matthew Boyd – who won the fifth starter job in Detroit over Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez – survived two bumpy innings and some shoddy defense to get the Tigers through the seventh inning.

He gave up back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches to Frazier and Avisail Garcia in the second inning.

In the third inning, he got Anderson to hit a lazy pop up into short right field, but Adduci didn’t see it and it fell in for a double. After a single by Cabrera, Garcia topped a ball down the third base line.

Castellanos tried to pick it up instead of seeing if it would roll foul and had no play. Anderson scored.

But after Boyd walked Davidson to load the bases, he shut the door. He got Sanchez to tap into a force out at home and then Soto to pop to first.

“He struggled with his command early, but his last four innings were really good,” Ausmus said. “That’s what young pitchers need to do. When they don’t have their best stuff, they have to fight through innings, get deeper in the game and give the team a chance to win.

“That’s exactly what he did. He was outstanding.”

Boyd’s pitch count was at 58 after three innings, but he got real efficient real fast. He put the White Sox down in order in the fourth and fifth on just 21 pitches. He worked around Castellanos' first error in the sixth by picking off Sanchez to end the inning.

He dispatched the White Sox on eight-pitches in a clean seventh and left to a warm ovation from the sparse crowd at Comerica Park. He retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced, the other reaching on an error, and left the game tied at 3.

While the defense combusted in the eight, the Tigers’ bats were iced by the White Sox bullpen.

Twitter: @cmccosky