Chicago — Miguel Cabrera was back in the warmth of the Tigers’ clubhouse when the Tigers began to rally Thursday.
“It was beautiful,” he said. “Beautiful. I like the attitude we have here. I like that everybody feels positive that we can win a game and that we’re going to play nine innings hard.”
Nine innings, 10 innings, in sub-40-degree weather, with snow falling non-stop for more than three hours — the Tigers kept fighting. They scored three times in the ninth inning off closer Joakim Soria to tie the score at 7, then scored twice more in the 10th to spoil the White Sox home opener 9-7.
“That’s what we’ve talked about since we’ve come over here — play nine innings, all the way to the end, never give up and never quit,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And I haven’t seen these guys even think about it.”
Cabrera was back in the clubhouse watching because in the first inning he singled and slipped rounding first, falling hard, face-first, and landing on his left hip. He came out of the game before the Tigers took the field in the bottom of the seventh.
The initial diagnosis was left hip flexor tightness.
“I’m feeling better right now,” Cabrera said. “I jammed my hip a little bit on the ground. It started to feel tight so I talked to the Skip and come out of the game. I don’t want to lose any games.”
The Tigers are off Friday and Cabrera said he expects to be back on Saturday. If for no other reason than watching the team rally like that is too stressful.
“I was nervous,” he said. “When you don’t play and you watch, you feel all the excitement. When you are on the field, you are just doing your job. Watching it, you feel like you can’t do anything.
“But it was fun to watch the guys battle back. I feel very proud of my teammates.”
His replacement, rookie utility man Niko Goodrum, was the igniter.
Goodrum delivered his first big-league home run, a two-out, two-run shot that cut the White Sox lead to 7-6.
“It sunk in right when it went over the fence,” Goodrum said. “The emotions of it. The biggest thing was getting those two runs and keep coming back.”
Nick Castellanos followed with a single and came storming home with the tying run on a slicing double to left by Victor Martinez. The ball skidded past charging left fielder Leury Garcia.
“These guys were rooting for each other, pulling for each other,” Gardenhire said. “This was a great example of how you play the game hard for nine full innings.”
And then win it in the 10th.
Mikie Mahtook led off the 10th with a single off right-hander Gregory Infante. After Jose Iglesias walked, Mahtook took third on a fly out by Dixon Machado — who had a pair of doubles — and scored on a fielder's choice ground ball by Leonys Martin.
Interesting that Gardenhire, who hasn’t yet used a pinch-hitter in any of the six games, let left-handed hitting Martin hit against left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer.
“I trust the guy and I want to see what he can do,” Gardenhire said. “He’s tough to double up. And actually, he’s been taking some healthy hacks. He’s probably still vibrating from that last one — he got jammed pretty good.
“But that was a bonus for us. Had he hit it on the nose it might’ve been a double play.”
Martin, who had two hits and knocked in two runs, told his teammates before his at-bat in the 10th there was no way he was going to get doubled up.
“I feel confident against lefties,” Martin said. “Everything slowed down for me there and I was able to put the ball in play. I know they’re not going to make a double-play on me.”
Jeimer Candelario followed with a ringing single past third baseman Yolmer Sanchez to tack on an insurance run.
“You see how we play the game,” Martin said. “We never give up. It doesn’t matter how late in the game, how far we are behind, we keep battling. Everybody fights every at-bat. It was a great comeback.”
The Tigers bullpen gets a share of the game ball for this one. Picking up starter Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings, they allowed just one run over 5 2/3.
Left-hander Daniel Norris, whose start was postponed by the bad weather in Detroit on Wednesday, allowed a run and hit while striking out six in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
“He ate up some big innings for us,” Gardenhire said. “And he kept the game pretty much right there. He kept us in striking distance.”
Joe Jimenez pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth, retiring the heart of the White Sox order — Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson and Sanchez — to earn his first big-league win.
“I am thankful to be in those situations,” Jimenez said. “Thanks to Gardy and to Chris Bosio (pitching coach) for trusting me and putting me in there. I just wanted to do my job. I was going to go out there and, no matter what the situation is, just try to get outs.”
Things got interesting again in the bottom of the 10th
Closer Shane Greene struck out the first two batters before he walked Omar Narvaez and hit pinch-hitter Nicky Delmonico, bringing the winning run to the plate in Yoan Moncada.
But Greene finished it off, striking out Moncada.
“This culture, this personality kind of came out in spring training,” Mahtook said. “It’s what Gardy preached. We’re going to compete. We don’t care what anybody says, whether we are up 10 or down 10. We’re going to play hard. And that’s been pretty evident.
“We’ve had some terrible conditions, some rainouts, some tough losses. But every game we’ve been in and we’ve come back. We’ve scored runs off a closer who doesn’t give up many runs (Felipe Rivero) and we scored runs off this closer. It’s fun to see.”