White Sox fall on walk-off homer
Dotel surrenders Cabrera's game-winner in ninth in series finale
DETROIT -- Those fans who arrived a little late to Comerica Park for Thursday afternoon's series finale between the Tigers and White Sox will learn to be more punctual the next time Mark Buehrle and Kenny Rogers get the start on a getaway day.
Then again, Detroit's 2-1 victory before 40,297 was decided on the final pitch of the game, with Miguel Cabrera driving a fastball from Octavio Dotel into the right-field stands. Before that exciting moment, the large crowd in attendance simply witnessed a pitching clinic executed by a pair of veteran southpaws who are a combined 93 games over .500 during their stellar careers.
Both pitchers certainly performed well enough to win, and then some. But it was the Tigers (29-37) who completed their first three-game sweep of the White Sox (37-29) since July 8-10, 2003, at Comerica Park, a rare occurrence in a road venue where the South Siders have a lifetime mark of 47-31.
Basically, the Tigers came up with the clutch hits that the White Sox consistently displayed during their perfect 7-0 homestand posted before venturing to Motown.
"We played good," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his team getting swept. "We just lost. They swung the bat better than we did. They pitched better than we did."
"They always have good pitching, and we really just ran into a good team," Buehrle said. "We came in hot and they kind of put us out. It's a three-game losing streak, but we are going to have more than just this one three-game losing streak the rest of the way. We just have to keep them to a minimum."
With the game deadlocked in the ninth, hard-throwing reliever Octavio Dotel was called upon to face Detroit's trio of right-handed sluggers in Magglio Ordonez, Cabrera and Marcus Thames. It took just six pitches for Thames to realize his ninth-inning services would not be needed.
Ordonez opened the final frame by launching Dotel's second pitch deep to left, a drive hauled in by Carlos Quentin at the warning track. Cabrera worked the count to 2-1 against Dotel (3-3) before driving a fastball away for his ninth home run and the White Sox third walk-off loss in the past 13 games.
Just as the pitch location was where Dotel wanted it when he jammed Ordonez in the previous at-bat, he wasn't upset by where he threw the deciding offering to Cabrera.
"I don't want to throw inside to him," said Dotel of Cabrera. "I just want to be away from him. If he's going to beat me, he's got to beat me to the other way. Today was his day."
"One pitch and the game is over," Guillen said. "That's the way it was. [Dotel] was pitching against one of the better hitters in the game, and that's not an easy thing to do."
Buehrle's eight-inning, 102-pitch effort far and away stood out as the story of the day for the White Sox. He scattered seven hits, with two singles coming in the third and three more hits coming in the sixth, when the Tigers scored their first run. But Buehrle was able to keep the game tied, retiring Ordonez on a popup to shortstop Orlando Cabrera with runners on first and third and one out, and then inducing Cabrera's ground ball to shortstop to end the inning.
Ordonez entered the game with 15 hits in 25 career at-bats against Buehrle, who has allowed just two earned runs over his past two starts, covering 16 innings. Buehrle's ERA sits at 4.47, a precipitous drop from when it checked in at 5.81 after a loss in Anaheim on May 12. According to Buehrle, nothing has really changed during this recent return to career normalcy.
"I'm attacking the zone and throwing all of my pitches," said Buehrle, who struck out six and walked one, and is tied with Gavin Floyd and Javier Vazquez for the most quality starts in the rotation at nine.
"On certain days, some are working better than others," Buehrle added. "When I've thrown the ball well, the results have been good. When I've not had a quality start, it's been miserable. Everybody is bombarding me and saying that I'm pitching [poorly], but I think I'm throwing the ball pretty well."
Count Detroit manager Jim Leyland as a supporter of Buehrle's work.
"He's really good," Leyland said. "He cuts the ball in on right-handers and turns it over on them, changes speeds on them, then throws a curveball. He went up high on [Ordonez] with a man on third that one time, got him to pop it up. He's really good."
Rogers gave up one run over eight innings, with Jermaine Dye's second-inning sacrifice fly scoring Paul Konerko, who had doubled and moved to third on Ryan Raburn's error in retrieving the baseball. The White Sox finished with five hits against Rogers and Todd Jones (2-0), after producing four against Justin Verlander on Wednesday.
This is the same White Sox offense that had at least 11 hits in nine straight games entering Wednesday. Of course, seven of those efforts came at home, where the White Sox will return on Friday, hoping to extend their eight-game win streak at U.S. Cellular Field and forget about this sweep and six straight road losses.
"We can't wait to get back," White Sox catcher Toby Hall said. "Get back and get back on a roll."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.