'A circus': Tigers blow 7-run lead, lose 12-11 slugfest to White Sox on walk-off HR
Chicago — This one was, bananas.
When the smoke cleared, the Tigers and White Sox combined for 23 runs, 36 hits, nine home runs and a 400-foot single that landed in the seats. Oh, and catcher James McCann, who stole exactly two bases in 452 games with the Tigers, stole second base.
It was that kind of night.
"It's the windy city," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Those guys can hit and the ball was flying and it turned into a circus game — and they hit the last home run and ended up on top."
The Tigers, after building an 8-1 lead and blowing a 10-4 lead, tied the game at 11 in the eighth on a lead-off home run by Ronny Rodriguez. But White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, with two outs in the ninth against Joe Jimenez, hit a walk-off, no-doubt home run to left to give the White Sox a 12-11 win.
And this time, nobody could take umbrage with his exuberant bat flip. He earned the right.
"It's tough," said Tigers first baseman John Hicks, who had three hits and reached base all five times. "You get 15 hits, you expect to win. The ball rolls down hill and it starts heading down hill and it just picked up speed.
"We couldn't stop the bleeding. It happens. We move on."
The strangest moment in a strange game took place in the bottom of the seventh when a three-run home run by Jose Abreu turned into a two-run single.
After scoring five times in the sixth inning to make a 10-9 game, the White Sox got one-out singles from Leury Garcia and Anderson against rookie Reed Garrett. Abreu, who homered in the sixth, launched one into the seats in right-center field.
It would have been a three-run homer except Abreu passed Anderson rounding first base.
"I turned around and I saw him pass," Hicks said. "I instantly tried to get the dugout's attention. And I think they saw it, too. It was a weird play. Anderson was going back to tag up and Abreu was just jogging.
"He could've stopped. It was a weird play."
The Tigers alertly challenged the play and won. Abreu was ruled out, his homer changed to a two-run single.
Still, the White Sox had dug out of a six-run deficit and led 11-10.
"Our starter (Daniel Norris) battled for five innings and was at 87 pitches," Gardenhire said. "It wasn't the most beautiful thing in the world, but he maneuvered himself through it.
"But we had to go to the bullpen and we've played a lot of games in a very little time. There were four (relievers) we didn't want to touch. We went with what what we had and it didn't work out too well."
The five-run uprising in the sixth inning came against relievers Zac Reininger and Drew VerHagen. And the White Sox left some meat on that bone.
They had the bases loaded with one out and, on a 3-1 count, Jose Rondon, who had homered to start the inning, hit a line drive right at second baseman Josh Harrison, who threw to first to double off Yonder Alonso and end the inning.
Besides the home run to Rondon, Reininger gave up back to back doubles to Garcia and Anderson, then a three-run home run to Abreu.
Gardenhire tried to squeeze four out of Jimenez, who got the final out of the eight with a strikeout, then struck out Cordell and Garcia in the ninth. But he hung a first-pitch slider to Anderson — ballgame.
"Joe was throwing the ball well," Gardenhire said. "We don't usually let him go back out for another inning, but we thought he was throwing it good and we needed outs. And he's one of the fresher guys we had.
"That kid (Anderson) is having a heck of a year to this point. Joe hung a slider and he did what he was supposed to do."
Before all that, though, it was the Tigers who provided the thunder.
They came into the game still lagging at the bottom of the American League in home runs, but they knocked five balls into the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field. Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera went back-to-back in the first inning, Grayson Greiner and JaCoby Jones also went deep before Rodriguez hit his game-tying rocket in the eighth.
The Tigers managed a mere seven home runs in their first 18 games. But they’ve broken out for 12 in their last seven. Greiner, who hit a two-run shot in the third, has homered in three of the last four games he’s started.
Castellanos, whose blast traveled 418 feet into the bleachers in right-center, had gone 90 plate appearances without a homer before knocking one off the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park Thursday.
Cabrera ended the longest home run drought of his career. In terms of the calendar, it’d been almost a full year. His last homer came in Baltimore on April 28, 2018. But that’s not fair, since he missed the final three and a half months last season.
Still, it’d been a long while — 161 plate appearances, 103 this season.
Cabrera also doubled and had two singles — his first four-hit game since last April 21 — and knocked in three runs.
Jones, who broke a 1-for-20 skid with a double off the center field wall in Fenway Thursday, lined one in the fifth that skipped over the top of the fence in right-center.
Norris, making his second start of the season, lasted five innings and was in trouble in everyone. He ended up allowing four runs on 10 hits. He did well to keep the damage at that.
Harrison prevented at least one run with a diving stop on a ball hit up the middle by Abreu in the second inning. The White Sox had two on and no outs. Harrison dived and made a backhand stop, then still on his stomach, flipped it to second for the force.
Norris then walked No. 9 hitter Ryan Cordell to load the bases, but he induced a one-pitch, 5-4-3 double-play from Garcia.
He gave up a long home run to Alonso in the fourth (420 feet) and three hits and another run in the fifth. Still, he left with a 10-4 lead.
"We're just a little short-handed," Gardenhire said. "I hope this storm hits and it blows like 18-inches of snow so they don't even think about playing (Saturday). Because we just don't have the pitching right now after the games in Boston.
"We need a bit of a break."