Boom, boom: Tigers close season series with White Sox with 4-homer rout
Chicago — So the deal was, the Tigers and White Sox just had to hurry up and get through five innings, make the soggy, lopsided game official and then it could rain all night, no worries.
"The weather forecasters stink," manager Ron Gardenhire said, playfully, after the Tigers had secured a 10-2 victory. "They told us if we could get the last inning in, it was going to rain and we could get out of here.
"That didn't work out too well."
Well, it did and it didn't. Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann zipped through the bottom of the fifth inning on eight pitches — he was out there less than 10 minutes — but the skies cleared up and the teams slogged through nine full innings.
"It was a grind of a game for me," said Zimmermann, who came back after two rain delays to complete the five innings. "The two delays and then our long inning when we scored all them runs.
"It was more taxing on me than anything just trying to stay in rhythm."
With the two rain delays (28 minutes in the second inning and 33 minutes in the fifth), it ended up being a four-hour, 18-minute night — but a happy flight home for the Tigers.
And it was reversal of fortunes for the two starting pitchers.
Zimmermann came into his start Wednesday with a nightmarish record against the White Sox. He’d allowed 21 runs in 20.1 innings against them in four previous starts.
White Sox starter, rookie Michael Kopech, had allowed just one run in 11 innings in the big leagues this season and had limited the Tigers to a run over six innings on Aug. 26. He had given up seven runs total over his last five starts in Triple-A.
So, naturally, the Tigers bashed four home runs off Kopech, three in a six-run fourth inning.
"I don't know if his velocity was down or not, but he got some pitches up and we didn't miss them," Gardenhire said. "It was just one of those nights. Everything we hit found a hole."
Or went over the fence.
Jeimer Candelario’s leadoff home run to start the game was a precursor. He jumped a 93-mph fastball from Kopech and hit it 433 feet to right field, his 17th home run.
Mikie Mahtook led off the fourth inning with a 455-foot blast to left field. It was his seventh home run of the season, all coming in a span of 57 at-bats.
After James McCann singled, Ronny Rodriguez lined a home run down the line in left field. JaCoby Jones followed with his 10th home run of the season.
The Tigers finished off the inning with doubles by Dawel Lugo and Jim Adduci, and an RBI single by Nick Castellanos. They sent 10 men to the plate in that fourth inning and banged out a season-high seven hits.
"He was being aggressive, throwing strikes," Candelario said. "We were just ready and put some good swings on him."
Zimmermann, when the rains came a second time, had breezed through four innings and he was determined he was going to see this through five and claim his well-earned victory.
He warmed up in the bullpen while the grounds crew removed the tarp, and then dispatched the White Sox on eight pitches in the bottom of the fifth.
"I didn't have to lobby to stay in the game at all," Zimmermann said. "I just came up here (clubhouse), put heat packs on and tried to stay as warm as I could. I was ready. After we scored all those runs, I definitely wanted to get through five innings."
He allowed two singles and a walk and got seven ground ball outs, a far cry from his first four starts against the White Sox.
"I just made better pitches," he said. "I had pretty good stuff tonight. I made sure in 0-2, 1-2 counts that the ball was out of the zone. And I was able to get to those counts often and make them hit my pitch."
The Tigers batted around again in the sixth inning and tacked on three more runs with a two-run single by Victor Martinez and an RBI single by McCann.
Everybody in the lineup got at least one hit and everybody except Lugo had an RBI. Castellanos posted his 17th three-hit game, which is third most in the Major Leagues. Adduci and Candelario also had three hits.
The White Sox got two unearned runs off Daniel Stumpf in the seventh. A probable double-play ground ball to shortstop Rodriguez turned into a three-base error, which allowed Welington Castillo to score from first.
Rodriguez threw errantly to second. The ball went down the right-field line, nearly to the corner. Matt Davidson, who went all the way to third on the errant throw, scored on a single by Jose Rondon.
The Tigers finished the season 8-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field this season, and 12-7 against the White Sox overall.