Tigers chase Quintana, finish off sweep of White Sox
By Jason Beck and Scott Merkin
DETROIT -- Justin Upton's two-run double completed a four-run fifth inning, providing the support for Justin Verlander to complete the Tigers' three-game series sweep of the White Sox with a 5-2 win Sunday at Comerica Park.
Verlander (5-5) improved to 4-0 in his last five meetings with the White Sox, delivering seven innings of two-run ball on five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. Four of those five hits went for extra bases, but Chicago couldn't capitalize beyond solo homers from Jose Abreu in the first inning and Todd Frazier in the sixth.
"I think even early we had some opportunities and we didn't execute, didn't get some guys in from third," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Really you want to give [Jose Quintana] a little room to work with, and it just seems like he doesn't get that."
Quintana (5-6) kept pace until a bases-loaded walk turned a fifth-inning jam into a game-turning rally. J.D. Martinez's walk put Detroit on top for good and extended the inning for Nick Castellanos' RBI infield single. With the bases still loaded, Upton swung away on a 3-0 pitch and laced a double to the left-field corner.
"Nobody wants to be terrible. I've been terrible up to this point, I'll be the first one to tell you," Upton said. "But I haven't stopped working. I knew that I can contribute. I know at some point they're going to need me and they're going to be leaning on me."
The Tigers' fourth win in five games drew them back to .500 after a four-game losing streak. The White Sox fell to one game over .500 with their 10th loss in 12 games and their 18th in the last 24.
"We just need to be united. We have to be united," Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo. "It's the only way to get out of this tough moment. Everybody knows that, it's the only way we can do it. It's not just one man can take this team and get us out of it. It's the whole team."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Verlander escapes third-inning jam: Verlander had runners at second and third and the top of the White Sox order due up after an Alex Avila walk and Tyler Saladino double. But the righty ended the threat with some of his better pitching of the day. Verlander's curveball induced a weak comebacker from Adam Eaton before Jason Coats chased high fastballs and Abreu went for a slider off the plate for back-to-back strikeouts. More >
Digging the long ball: The White Sox didn't connect often against Verlander, but when they did, they made it count. Abreu homered with two outs in the first, a 443-foot blast per Statcast™, and his first long ball since May 17. Frazier added his 18th homer of the season with two outs in the sixth, going deep on a 3-2 offering and tying him with Mark Trumbo for the Major League lead. For his career, Abreu is a .315 hitter with 12 homers and 23 RBIs against 11 previous Cy Young Award winners.
"I felt much better in the series," said Abreu, who has five hits in his last 12 at-bats. "But I know I need to keep working because I'm not in my normal groove. It's a matter of work. It felt very good, but I need to keep getting better."
Iglesias makes diving stop: The Tigers' defense picked up Verlander with two highlight plays in the fifth inning to strand Jimmy Rollins on third with the potential go-ahead run. Jose Iglesias, playing in with the rest of the infield, made a diving stop and throw to rob Tyler Saladino of an RBI. Eaton put down the next pitch for a bunt down the first-base line, but James McCann made a lunging throw to barely beat him at first.
"You see a lot of times a team makes a phenomenal defensive play and then, all of a sudden, throw up a run, throw up two runs," McCann said. "It's a momentum thing. If you can find a momentum shift in a game, it's a big thing."
Lapse in control: Quintana could have escaped a tough fifth-inning situation after retiring Victor Martinez on a foul popup to Abreu with the bases loaded and one out. But after jumping ahead at 0-2 on J.D. Martinez, Quintana threw four straight pitches out of the zone to walk in the go-ahead run. Quintana had walked 14 over 72 innings coming into the game. The White Sox are now 0-8 overall in the last eight starts from Quintana and Chris Sale.
"I think that inning changed the game for me. It was a hard situation," Quintana said. "I have a lot of confidence in all my pitches at this moment, but I missed a spot a couple of times. I take my responsibility for the game." More >
"Yeah, it was a little strange, but I think we were both excited for it. I know I was. I just tried to compete." -- Avila, on his 1-for-2 showing against Verlander, who threw to Avila for 804 2/3 innings while they were both with Detroit -- more than any catcher in the ace's career
"Win one game and try to keep going day by day." -- Quintana, on how the White Sox can get back on track
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Francisco Rodriguez converted his 17th consecutive save opportunity since his last blown save on Opening Day in Miami. It's the longest streak by a Tigers closer since Joaquin Benoit converted his first 22 save chances in 2013. Rodriguez leads the American League in saves.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Mat Latos (6-1, 4.02 ERA) remains in the White Sox rotation, even with the addition of James Shields, and he takes the mound for his 11th start of the season Tuesday night in Chicago against the Nationals at 7:10 p.m. CT. Latos has given up 23 earned runs over his last 31 2/3 innings.
Tigers: The Blue Jays make the trip to Detroit to open a three-game series at Comerica Park at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday night. Michael Fulmer (5-1, 3.24 ERA) will try to continue his dominant stretch opposite J.A. Happ (6-2, 3.06).