Tigers starter Justin Verlander has encountered some troubles on the mound in the last few weeks, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Wednesday night’s game that his team would not underestimate the right-hander.
“I know our guys aren’t going to the plate thinking he’s anything less than he has been in the past,” Ventura said.
The Sox scored seven earned runs against Verlander — his season high — including six in the sixth inning to drive him from the mound. Overall, he allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out six in 52/3 innings.
Sox first baseman Jose Abreu started the Sox scoring with his second homer off Verlander this season, and his 19th overall. Abreu’s shot to left-center field led off the second for a 1-0 Sox lead.
The Tigers tied the game in the fourth off Sox left-hander John Danks. Tigers designated-hitter Miguel Cabrera doubled to lead off the inning, advanced on a flyout and scored on Torii Hunter’s groundout to make it 1-1.
The Sox loaded the bases in the sixth inning on three straight singles from Abreu, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez. Dayan Viciedo grounded into a double play, but Abreu scored from third to break the tie. Alejandro De Aza followed with a single down the right-field line to drive in Dunn to push the Sox lead to 3-1.
And the Sox weren’t done. After Adrian Nieto and Adam Eaton walked, Gordon Beckham hit a two-run single up the middle on Verlander’s 122nd pitch. Against Tigers reliever and former Neuqua Valley pitcher Ian Krol, Conor Gillaspie followed with a two-run double and Dunn had an RBI single to push the Sox ahead 8-1.
The Sox also missed out on a couple of good scoring chances against Verlander. In the third inning, they loaded the bases after De Aza was hit by a pitch and Nieto and Beckham walked. But Gillaspie popped out to shortstop and Abreu struck out to end the inning.
Eaton tripled to the right-field corner with one out in the fifth, but he was tagged out at the plate trying to advance when Beckham knocked the ball to third.
Danks entered the game on a roll over his previous three starts, lasting at least seven innings in each and allowing three total earned runs. He pitched seven innings Wednesday, limiting the Tigers to six hits and two earned runs.
The Tigers entered Wednesday atop the American League Central standings, but none of the other teams in the division were very far behind.
“They’re a good team,” Ventura said. “Nobody knows what the future holds, really, so for us we’re just worried about competing here in this series and not worrying about what they’re going to do later in the season.”