The 1983 White Sox team slogan was "winning ugly", a term coined by opposing manager Doug Rader, who felt they were winning games which they did not deserve to win. You can call it luck or call it scrappiness but the Tigers won ugly tonight. The Tigers beat the White Sox 7-6 tonight in an extra inning game which is pretty difficult to summarize. If you look at the box score you will see that one of the main themes of the game was walks. There were 20 free passes in 10 innings, 12 by the Tigers staff and 8 by the White Sox. That only begins to describe the crazy night though.
Dontrelle Willis had a typically adventurous outing. He started off wild and then settled down a bit before walking four batters in the fifth. In between, he fell on the mound and seemed to hurt is leg in the first inning but continued. Then he almost got into a brawl with the lovable AJ Pierzynski in the fourth. He nearly hit Pierzynski with one of his out of control pitches and then AJ said something to him as he trotted down to first on a ground out. Both benchies emptied but there was no real trouble.
After walking the bases loaded in the fourth, Willis faced Pierzynski again. This time the White Sox catcher hit a little nubber to the right of the mound, Dontrelle made a terrific diving play and an equally good throw to first to end the ending. In all, Willis allowed three runs on five hits and five walks in five innings. It wasn't pretty but he kept them in the game and likely earned another start. The score was tied 3-3 when he left the game.
Everybody was wild tonight, even Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle who usually has pin point control. Buehrle walked four batters in 6 1/3 innings including three in the seventh. All three of those runners scored on a bases clearing double by Placido Polanco making it 6-3 Tigers. Polanco had come into the game 6 for 36 so it good to see him finally get a big hit.
Zach Miner, Bobby Seay and Joel Zumaya did not avoid walks totally but kept the the Tigers in front with three scoreless innings of relief. Fernando Rodney, probably tired pitching his sixth game in five days, failed to convert a save situation for the first time all year. He couldn't find the plate at all and walked the bases loaded without retiring anybody.
Now, it was Brandon Lyon's turn. He struck out Jermaine Dye but then walked Jim Thome to force home a run. Paul Konerko then smashed a double into the left field corner. One run scored. A second run scored. A third run almost scored but Ryan Rabun threw out Dwayne Wise at the plate on a very close play and the Tigers had another life. Lyon struck out rookie Gordon Beckham to end the inning.
Finally, in the top of the tenth, gimpy Miguel Cabrera hit a towering fly ball to left field which barely left the park and the Tigers took a 7-6 lead. Brandon Lyon finally closed it out with an easy one two three ninth.
So, this one was not pretty but they won and now have a 2-1 lead in the big five game series. With their two aces - Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson - pitching the finally two games, a series win looks probable.