DETROIT -- The critics were poised and ready if Josh Wilson had delivered even the softest of singles with the bases loaded and two outs in the 10th inning of the White Sox 8-7 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday.
And manager Robin Ventura wasn't worried. He knew that walking Miguel Cabrera, arguably the game's best hitter, even with first and second base occupied in this one-run game, was the right decision. And it was validated when David Robertson struck out Wilson on four pitches.
"It's always risky, just because you put the winning run at second," said Ventura, after his team improved to 2-2 on this nine-game road trip. "But you don't tug on Superman's cape too often."
This 10th-inning situation probably should have never played out after the White Sox (32-40) scored three in the top of the 10th off of Joba Chamberlain. The game-winning hit came from second baseman Carlos Sanchez -- who is now hitting .169 over 118 at-bats -- with a bases-clearing triple on a 1-2 pitch.
Sanchez's line shot to right left the door open for Robertson to finish off his 15th save of the season. When Robertson fanned J.D. Martinez to start the 10th, there looked to be no problems ahead.
Five hitters later, the Tigers had runners on first and second with two outs, and Cabrera was stepping to the plate. Wilson had pinch-run for Victor Martinez after his two-out single in the ninth, so the move to intentionally walk Cabrera seemed like the absolute right one.
"I want to win the game," Robertson said. "I took the bat out of the best hitter in the game right now, so I'm not going to disagree with that one.
"That's about as poorly as I can pitch and still have a positive outcome. I would say that's pretty bad. Three hits and two walks and two runs, but we got the win. Deal. I can live with myself tonight."
Robertson fired a 94-mph cutter past a swinging Wilson on the first pitch, before missing outside. Wilson swung through the next cutters, giving Ventura and the White Sox check and mate in Game 1 of this four-game set.
For at least one afternoon, the Ventura critics who have been out in droves during the White Sox poor start were somewhat silent.
"We've seen so much of [Cabrera] over the last few years. If you are going to take your chances, you are going to take your chances with the next guy," Ventura said. "Victor got pinch-run for, so he wasn't going to be able to hit.
"Maybe it's different if Victor was back there. Without him back there, you take that chance, and I'm not going to mess with him. It's your best opportunity at that point. Wilson might get me some other day. He didn't get me today."