It’s a common refrain in sports that you never want to let the opposing team’s best player beat you. However, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is never one to live by a cliché and what worked for him on Friday night, hurt him on Saturday.
Guillen allowed reliever Jesse Crain to pitch to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth inning with two outs and a man on third in a tie game. Crain gave up a triple to Austin Jackson to start the inning, but got the next two outs without allowing a run. Crain got ahead of Cabrera 1-2 before he hung a slider -- the fourth straight slider of the at-bat -- which Cabrera promptly deposited over the right field fence and the Tigers held on for the 4-2 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
“Cabrera is one of the best hitters in the game, but meanwhile they’ve got a guy behind him [in Victor Martinez], he’s been swinging the bat good against the White Sox,” Guillen said. “Obviously you don’t want to make the pitch around the plate. We made the same decision last night. Last night worked, today’s doesn’t. I don’t have any regrets.”
On Friday, closer Sergio Santos struck out Cabrera, who represented the tying run, to end the game. Guillen said that if he had any doubt about a matchup with Cabrera, he would have walked him.
The White Sox had an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth, but failed to capitalize with runners on first and third and only one out.
“Every time we don’t get the big hit, we turn around and lose the game,” Guillen said. “We had a chance right there [in the eighth] and we couldn’t get it done.”
Early on it looked as though the White Sox weren’t even going to be in the game, as White Sox starter Edwin Jackson clearly didn’t have his best stuff. Jackson allowed seven base runners in the first two innings, but the Tigers only came away with two runs.
Jackson credited his defense for covering up some of his mistakes and said he had to battle throughout the game to get through six innings. Jackson threw a season-high 124 pitches and did just enough to keep the White Sox in the game.
“I looked up and I had 60 pitches through two innings. I knew from then on it was going to be a battle,” Jackson said. “The only thing you can do is keep going out there and fighting. I did that tonight.”
The Tigers wasted numerous opportunities early in the game, stranding 10 runners on the base paths on the night. Guillen was pleased to see Jackson limit the damage on a night when he wasn’t at the top of his game.
“It was very ugly, but he got it done. It wasn’t fun to watch, but when [I took] him out, I appreciate what he did,” Guillen said. “At the end of the day, when you look up at the scoreboard, it’s two runs. That’s all I care [about].”
Jackson’s yeoman effort wasn’t enough to save the White Sox from escaping a second straight night of playing with fire. The Tigers signed Martinez to protect Cabrera, one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. The acquisition has forced the opposition to either pitch to Cabrera or run the risk of letting Martinez – who is 3-for-7 with a double and two walks against the White Sox this season – beat them.
And without even stepping foot in the batter’s box, Martinez served his purpose and helped the Tigers get a victory.