DETROIT -- The White Sox might be the second-ranked fielding team in the American League, but it was the Detroit Tigers that put on the defensive clinic Friday.
The major difference in Friday’s key series opener for the White Sox was that their starter, John Danks, was no match for Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. But there was more than that. Much more, in fact.
Not that he needed too much help, but Verlander got it anyway in the form of great plays behind him.
Ramon Santiago made a diving catch at second base, Magglio Ordonez made a running catch deep in right field and shortstop Jhonny Peralta started a nifty double play. And that was all in the first five innings as the White Sox were trying desperately to get some traction against Verlander.
“It makes a big difference because you work hard to square a ball up and they catch it or make a good play and it takes the wind out of you a little bit and it makes him probably feel a little bit better too,” said Juan Pierre, who was the victim on Ordonez’s running catch. “They definitely had everything going tonight. They had their big guy on the mound and you just have to shake this one off and get the one tomorrow and have amnesia about this one tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers took advantage of the White Sox in the first inning when shortstop Alexei Ramirez couldn’t make a play in the hole for a leadoff single and Alejandro De Aza was unable to track down a long ball that went for an RBI triple to Delmon Young.
The Tigers entered in the bottom half of the AL in fielding percentage at .983. But with a chance to solidify their playoff chances as well as strengthen Verlander’s Cy Young credentials, they made all the plays.
Even with a perfectly played game, the White Sox still didn’t stand a chance, but the difference between the teams in the field just added to the overall domination displayed by the Tigers. They were the better team on the mound, at the plate and in the field.
“Just have to find a way to put more runs on the board and we couldn’t,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We have to come back here tomorrow and fight. The next two games are very big for us, huge. If we are going to make it a little easier, the next two games will be very crucial.”